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I tagged along for a two legs of MINI Takes the States, an epic cross-country road rally that’s put on by the company. I participated in just two sections of this continent-spanning trip, but that was still enough for me to experience four Midwestern states and some 700 miles of America. But there’s much more to than this event than just the sliver I experienced.
As expected, Idaho and Wyoming officially adopted an 80 MPH speed limit on certain highways.
AAA is urging Illinois legislators not to raise the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on state roadways.
Travel times might be reduced soon in parts of Nevada if a new bill proposing an 85 mph speed limit becomes law.
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…
Las Vegas is one of America’s largest tourist attractions, with themed-hotels that ironically replicate landmarks of countries that tourists are probably visiting from. Nonetheless, it’s the one place Americans can all trek to without having to leave the country to experience a diverse amount of cultures, even if they’re not very accurate.
And now, Bruton Smith who is the CEO of Speedway Motorsports, wishes to clone another one of European’s infamous landmarks in Las Vegas – but not quite what you may be thinking. Instead of building a billion-dollar casino, Smith is aspiring to clone the infamous Nürburgring, 10 or so miles from Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In an interview with Sirius XM Sports, Smith admitted that he has been in talks with “some Germans” on duplicating the Ring in Nevada and has already approached the Governor and the Nevada Bureau of Land Management for the 8,000 acres he’ll need. Smith also mentioned that if the product was to be completed, the ‘Ring clone would just be for test track usage for individuals and manufacturers’.
We already bet many American automakers would be onboard with something like this. They would save money on shipping out a crew and car to Europe just to test it on the real Nürburgring. It’ll be interesting if this project takes off and Vegas gets to add yet another landmark plucked from the Europeans.
[Source: SiriusXM Sports]
Nevada is first state in the U.S. to approve the legal road use of autonomous vehicles, perhaps due to the long stretches of straight desert roads that can be found in the Silver State.
Such approval isn’t without provisos: any self driving vehicle on the road must be indicated with a red license plate. Red, usually the marker for danger, is meant to alert all other drivers on the road that the car is without a driver.
Autonomous cars sold at mass quantities are still in the somewhat distant future, but this legislation shows that it’s more than a fad. These new regulations are helping to usher in a new age of cars that drive themselves. Despite not needing hands at the “ten and two” position we were all taught, road rules still apply to Nevada drivers. The pilot of an autonomous vehicle is still prohibited from texting or talking on a cell phone while in the drivers seats.
We are still behind the times, but they are swiftly changing.