A survey conducted by CarInsurance.com suggests that 20 percent of drivers would prefer to have their cars take over on their daily commutes.
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Placing confidence in a self-driving car will be a big step for any driver, but a new study from KPMG LLP shows that consumers trust big tech companies more than automakers to get the job done.
Expert members at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology, believe that by 2040, 75 percent of cars on the road will be autonomous.
Autonomous cars are instruments of the Devil and they need to be kept off the road. They commit wicked acts like driving blind people on errands.
It was only December of last year when Google earned patents for autonomous vehicles. Now, the technology continues to rapidly move ahead as automotive supplier Continental has commenced testing a semi-autonomous vehicle of its own that is more affordable and could be among the first licensed for use on Nevada’s designated public roads by months end.
Nevada is the first state to pass laws regulating driverless vehicles. To qualify for a special state license, engineers at Continental have built and driven a heavily modified Volkswagen Passat with its brake and steering controls removed and replaced with sensors to digitally read and interpret surroundings. According to engineer Ibro Muharemovic, the Passat has logged almost 10,000 miles of autonomous driving and during a more recent trip from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Brimley, Michigan, home of Continental’s development and testing center, more than 90 percent of the journey did not involve the use of hands and feet.
Unlike Google’s ambitions to create a sophisticated fully autonomous vehicle, Continental went along to develop an interim semi-autonomous option that could take over duties during stop-and-go traffic or extended stretches of highway, the least satisfying of driving conditions. However, Continental and Google’s endpoint is identical: to create a solution that will reduce accidents, congestion, and fuel consumption. Continental director of engineering systems and technology Christian Schumacher said, “We still have a long way to go, but the technology is amazing.”
According to Ravi Pandit, CEO of India’s global IT and engineering company KPIT Cummins, “There is a strong business case for an autonomous car that can drop you off or a cab without the expense of a driver.”
Despite the optimism, mass production semiautonomous cars are still a couple years away. The technology exists but the idea raises questions of liability, regulation, and public acceptance. NHTSA will begin a study of autonomous driving in August with a one-year pilot project in Ann Arbor, testing 3,000 cars with the ability to communicate with one another to avoid an accident. What’s more, in an event of a crash, the law has yet to resolve who is reliable or whether the occupants of an autonomous car are legally exempt from bans on mobile devices.
As for passenger anxiety, Ravi Pandit is confident that, “A car can see better than a human can, and the car responds faster.”
Engineer Ibro Muharemovic commented, “I was surprised by how well it worked.” Continental’s Volkswagen Passat is fitted with a stereo camera that can monitor speed-bumps or potholes as far as 220 yards away and adjust steering, braking, and acceleration accordingly. Muharemovic adds, “The driver is always in control and can override the system any time.”
If testing is successful and Continental is qualified for Nevada registration, a special red license plate will be provided to distinguish the driverless car. In the future, production driverless cars would receive a green license plate.
Check out video footage of Continental’s autonomous Volkswagen Passat driving itself below. Continue Reading…
You might have wondered what it would be like to have our vehicles drive themselves, but seeing how it could affect roadways as we know it is, well, terrifying.
One of the biggest impacts autonomous cars would have is at intersections. With driverless cars controlling themselves, the need for traffic lights and even stop signs would disappear, streamlining travel. Imagine a world where traffic constantly flowed and we would never get stuck at a traffic light simply because vehicles would communicate with one another to avoid an accident.
Peter Stone, a computer scientist at the University of Texas at Austin explored this idea and with the aid of his researchers, came up with a video showcasing just this concept. “There would be an intersection manager,” Stone says, “an autonomous agent directing traffic at a much finer-grain scale than just a red light for one direction and a green light for another direction.”
Since we don’t live in a perfect world where everyone would suddenly own autonomous cars, the video depicts a mix of both driverless and driver-controlled vehicles on the roadway. The driver-controlled cars are yellow and those people would have to wait for a signal that is based on what everyone else is doing. Stone mentioned that the system could be designed with the flexibility knowing that not all driving decisions will be made by computers.
It’s an interesting thought, but as with all things technology, we can’t even imagine the utter chaos that would ensue if something broke down, never mind the countless other variables that could come into play.
Watch the video after the break.
[Source: The Atlantic Cities]
Google isn’t alone in its plan to bring autonomous cars to roads near you. There is now at lest one other major player, with the National University of Defense Technology in China having built a self-driving project of its own.
Working with China’s First Auto Works, the university researchers took a Hongqi HQ3 sedan and fitted it with cameras, sensors, and a computer that enabled the vehicle to start, navigate and stop its way through a 154-mile trek without the help of a driver. Oddly enough, the technology doesn’t utilize GPS to figure out where it is or where’s it going but rather uses the cameras and sensors to obey speed limits, watch traffic and make lane changes. We’re still a little confused as to how the car knew where to go, or how to get there – or if they just simply put it on a busy freeway to go straight without incident.
The technology isn’t very advanced, however, as this autonomous vehicle can’t “see” at night and hasn’t quite logged the same number of miles Google has on their Prius models. But clearly when there’s a will, there’s a way and it’ll be interesting to see who else throws their name into the ring in battle autonomous car.
[Source: Cartech Blog]
A state made famous on for its loose laws and even looser morality, you can now add another item to the list of things you’re allowed to do in Nevada: ride along in a driverless car.
Thanks to the passing of Bill No. 511, Nevada is the first state to allow Google’s autonomous cars. The vehicles aren’t permitted to operate on Nevada state streets yet, however, as the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles first must draw up the exact rules governing the cars.
The vehicles, which currently total a dozen Toyota Priuses and one Audi TT use laser range finders and video camera, as well as maps to guide their way. Driver’s just have to input a destination using a GPS system and the car will find its own way there.
Google has been lobbying the Nevada state legislature, claiming the vehicles will pollute less and cause fewer collisions (not to mention injuries and deaths) than vehicles operated by humans.
With the bill passed, Google is also lobbying to push through an amendment to current texting while driving laws, that would allow texting for those behind the wheel of a driverless car.
The change in the law in Nevada may also benefit Volkswagen, which recently showed-off a new Temporary Auto Pilot technology, that it claims is nearly production ready.
Years from now you’ll remember reading this article. It will be the first time you ever heard about Volkswagen‘s new Temporary Auto Pilot, a technology that lets a car essentially drive by itself.
Science fiction? Hardly, VW claims its far closer to rolling this auto pilot option in production models that you’d expect.
Anyone who’s been paying any attention to the development of autonomous cars will likely have heard of Google’s driverless ones. While those vehicles are a somewhat distant reality, cars using Volkswagen’s TAP system could be on the road soon, thanks to the use of technology already in place in production cars. In a statement released following the debut of the system, Volkswagen claims that, “TAP is based on a relatively production-like sensor platform, consisting of production-level radar-, camera-, and ultrasonic-based sensors supplemented by a laser scanner and an electronic horizon.”
Revealed at the HAVEit (Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport) conference in Boras, Sweden, VW research director Dr. Jürgen Leohold described it as “An important milestone on the path towards fully automatic and accident-free driving.”
The Temporary Auto Pilot function, which can be switched on or off by the driver, will allow what VW calls “semi-automatic” driving at speeds of up to 130 km/h, or roughly 86 mph. It bundles features like adaptive cruise control, and a lane assist system allowing the vehicle to stay centered in a lane and maintain a constant distance from the vehicle ahead. Added innovations include the ability to reduce speed in a corner, as well as the ability to recognize speed limits.
Scary? Perhaps. But according to Volvo’s Senior Safety Engineer Thomas Broberg, the idea of a car train, where a lead vehicle sets the pace and speed and other cars communicate with it from behind will be a reality, at least on European roads by the end of the decade.
Broberg says that closed circuit tests have already proved successful with two cars working together in a car train format; Volvo says field trials are set to be conducted in Sweden later this year.
“Car trains allow a driver to use their time better, drive safer, reduce congestion and improve the environment,” the engineer said. “You’re always following another car, so why not let the driving be done by someone else?”
Broberg also believes that car trains are a further step towards fully autonomous cars but recognizes from a technical point of view, the concept is tremendously challenging, not mention legally and socially hard to swallow for most.
Yet Volvo is taking radical steps, setting a lofty goal of nobody dying in any of its cars by 2020, but says it “needs to understand the mechanisms about how people think,” in order to get there.
Broberg also believes that if Volvo could understand how people think in the seconds before an accident, it could potentially change accident situations from critical to non critical.
With more ambitious sales targets now in the works for Volvo, following its purchase by Chinese automaker Geely, the company has the potential to acquire more crash safety data from more of its cars in a shorter time period, speeding up research and development on future safety programs.
After secretly testing a fleet of autonomous cars in California, Google is now looking to shift driverless ‘driving’ into gear in Nevada, lobbying state officials to allow the vehicle to be legally driven on public roads.
To achieve their goal, and the dream of the projects creator and former Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun, Google has hired LAs Vegas lobbyist David Goldwater to alter existing Nevada state laws. Two key changes need to be made, the first would be a bill allowing for the licensing and testing of autonomous cars, while a second would then deal with issues of distracted driving, essentially allowing for the ‘driver’ of the car to text while driving as he or she really wouldn’t be in control of the vehicle anyway.
Thrun has been a vocal proponent of autonomous cars, claiming they would cut down on pollution and drastically reduce the number of road fatalities caused by human error.
Currently Google’s fleet of driverless cars totals seven and includes six Toyota Prius hybrids and one Audi TT. The cars are distinguishable by a large laser range finder on the roof, with other camera and radar sensors on the front and sides of the car.
When the robot uprising comes, Sebastian Thrun will be accused of sympathizing with the androids. The Google engineer and leader of its driverless car project believes that by replacing the follies and foibles of human driving, its computer-controlled cars could save a million lives every year.
Apocalypse jokes aside, Thrun, a professor of computer science at Stanford University, became dedicated to the concept of saving lives when he lost his best friend to a car accident when he was 18. He discussed the implications that driverless cars could have at TED Talks, the conference for new ideas. In addition to saving lives, Thrun said, transport would be far quicker and more efficient, with less fuel wasted and a complete elimination of traffic jams. Humans in the future “will look back at us and say how ridiculous it was that humans were driving cars.”
Google’s automated cars have so far covered 140,000 miles in a variety of driving conditions, with nary an accident. Click the jump to see a Toyota Prius navigate the mean streets of Anytown, USA, and just imagine how much more time we can spend texting on our cell phones once the robots take over our daily commute. I for one welcome our new robot overlords!
We all drool over the latest technologies, wait in line to buy them and show them off to our less fortunate friends. But a recent study shows that while we love them, we’re also frustrated when they crash and freeze. The study goes on to say that even though we’re frustrated, 49 percent of us would love to let a driverless car chauffeur us around.
According to a new Accenture survey that polled 2,000 British and American consumers, people are most interested in gadgets that do stuff automatically. These include smartphones, GPS systems, home appliances and vehicles. And if they’ll make your life easier, you’re willing to pay more for it.
Even though the survey largely concentrated its efforts in the electronics department and what people want in future models, it just goes to show you that people are really warming up to the idea of autonomous cars to get them around. But even though we’re more open to the idea, do you think the world is ready for the driverless car? We know that Google had pretty good results from their autonomous vehicle, but is the general public ready for this technology? Let us know in the comment section below.
We’ve also included the rest of the press release after the jump, so feel free to give it a read.