Items tagged with autonomous vehicles

The world is changing, folks. That has always been the case, of course, but every so often comes along a game changing technology that underscores the changing landscape. Around 20 years ago it was the Internet, which had begun going mainstream. And today? Self-driving cars point to a different future than the one we live in today. Google is one of the driving forces, and through its Waymo program, it is offering up free rides in its autonomous vans in Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix residents are some of the first to participate in Waymo's early rider program. It is a trial of Waymo's self-driving vehicles and as an early rider, Phoenix residents can hitch rides in autonomous vans to go to work, to... Read more...
Warfare is evolving at a pace faster than most people could have predicted even just a decade ago. Advances in technology have led to some incredibly high-tech gear on the battlefield and in the skies. In regards to the latter, the United States Air Force has developed an F-16 drone that can not only fly autonomously, it can also engage in battle with intelligent strategies that it conceives on its own. The Air Force had already been using F-16 drones as practice targets for the F-35 to destroy in training. Now the Air Force has announced fully autonomous air-to-air and ground strike capabilities that it developed in conjunction with Lockheed Martin's Skunkworks. Talk about a 'holy hell' moment.... Read more...
Intel on Monday announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Mobileye, an Israeli technology company that develops vision-based advanced driver assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation. Combined with Intel's high performance computing solutions and expertise in connectivity, the Santa Clara chip maker envisions creating automated driving solutions from cloud to car. As part of the agreement, a subsidiary of Intel will purchase all issued and outstanding ordinary shares of Mobileye for $63.54 per share in cash. That represents an equity value of around $15.3 billion, and an enterprise value of $14.7 billion. It's a big spend, though the... Read more...
Paying employees too little money will have them looking for better opportunities in greener pastures. On the flip side, if you pay them too much, they might also leave, though that's not typically a problem. It was for Google, however, which implemented an unusual and highly lucrative (for employees) pay system for its self-driving car division that led to top talent calling it quits.In the early days, Google implemented a compensation system that awarded employees with huge monetary incentives based on the project's value. It did not take long for the project to ramp up and accumulate significant value, which in turn made the division's employees wealthy. Several of them chose to cash in their... Read more...
Google said several months ago that it was partnering with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to build 100 autonomous Pacifica Hybrid minivans, a move that would double Google's self-driving fleet. Now it is about to make good on that arrangement. Chrysler announced today that production of all 100 Pacifica Hybrid minivans has been completed and delivered to Waymo, the new self-driving division created by Alphabet (Google's parent company), where they will be outfitted with autonomous hardware and software. "The Pacifica Hybrid will be a great addition to our fully self-driving test fleet. FCA's product development and manufacturing teams have been agile partners, enabling us to go from program... Read more...
Uber is trying to make its hometown of San Francisco the second city in the United States to benefit from its self-driving car service but it is meeting resistance by state authorities. After announcing the rollout on Wednesday, California regulators jumped in and demanded that Uber park its self-driving fleet because the company lacked the necessary permits for autonomous vehicles. "It is illegal for the company to operate its self-driving vehicles on public roads until it receives an autonomous vehicle testing permit," Brian G. Soublet, deputy director of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, told Uber in a letter. "Any action by Uber to continue the operation of vehicles equipped with... Read more...
Google has been one of the biggest driving forces in advancing the autonomous vehicle category. It could even be argued that Google leads the way. With that being the case, it's a bit of surprise to learn that Google may be taking a U-turn in the category and putting its plans to develop self-driving cars into park, at least as currently constructed.The company's self-driving car division, known internally as Chauffeur, is moving towards working with existing automakers to implement self-driving technologies and features into cars. This is opposed to Google continuing to build its own fleet of cars, which it hoped to one day ditch the steering wheel and pedals en route to being totally reliant... Read more...
We like things that are awesome. You probably like things that are awesome, too (we're not going out on much of a limb with that assumption). So, do you want to know something that's awesome that we stumbled upon? Sure you do, which is why we're sharing a video of Tesla's Autopilot technology in action, though not as you've seen it before. The video doesn't just show an autonomous vehicle weaving driving through a city, it uses highlighted color coding so that we can see what the sensors see. Tesla has put a ton of work into its Autopilot technology. Vehicles equipped with Autopilot have eight surround cameras providing a 360-degree view of the surrounding at up to 250 meters away. They also... Read more...
One thing that Google and automakers such as General Motors and Volkswagen can all agree on is that California's proposed rules on self-driving cars, while perhaps penned with good intentions, would hamper efforts to develop and test potentially life saving autonomous vehicle technologies. They could also lead to skewed reports regarding the safety of self-driving cars. For example, one of the rules (PDF) California proposed is that police wouldn't need a warrant or subpoena to extract any self-driving data within 24 hours. That one was one of many rules Google and automakers with vested interested in autonomous vehicles questioned and ultimately opposed, as the data would typically only be collected... Read more...
Forget about flying cars, the next big thing in automotive design is autonomous technology. There's been a considerable amount of innovation and advances in self-driving vehicle technology over the past several years, but while that may have companies such as Google and Tesla super excited, new research from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) suggests that Americans aren't yet comfortable giving up control of their cars to a computer and a bunch of sensors. KBB commissioned the national study to better understand how consumers view autonomous vehicles. Market research firm Vital Findings conducted the survey, which included 2,200 residents of the United States with a wide age range from 12-64 years old.... Read more...
Google's been lucky in that it's avoided any major collisions involving its fleet of self-driving cars up to this point, though that changed heading into the weekend when an autonomous Lexus RX sustained significant damage from a commercial delivery van plowing into the passenger side of the vehicle. Initial reports suggest Google's self-driving technology was not at fault. The accident occurred in Mountain View as the Lexus RX was traveling northbound on Phyllis Ave. While going through an intersection, a commercial van traveling westbound on El Camino Real ran a red light and smashed into the autonomous vehicle. Cell phone footage taken from the passenger of the Lexus RX shows the car hoisted... Read more...
Lyft co-founder and president John Zimmer has an ambitious vision of the future. In his mind, there will come a day when most of the ride-hailing service is run by self-driving cars rather than flesh and blood drivers. Oh, and that day is coming sooner than you think—how does five years strike you? That's the bold prediction Zimmer made in a recent blog post, but it wasn't the only one. Zimmer also predicted that private car ownership would "all but end" by 2025 in major U.S. cities, noting that millennials don't celebrate cars as symbols of freedom and identity the way that previous generations did and still do. To the average millennial, owning a car is an expensive burden, one that costs the... Read more...
Tesla is in the process of upgrading its Autopilot system to better 'see' the world surrounding world and discern from potentially dangerous objects that need to be avoided and those that don't require braking. Several of the changes that will ultimately lead to a smarter Autopilot system have been introduced in version 8 of its software. Version 8 contains dozens of small refinements, though the most significant upgrade is that of more advanced signal processing that taps the onboard radar to create a picture of the outside world. This represents a major change in strategy for Tesla and its Autopilot function. "The radar was added to all Tesla vehicles in October 2014 as part of the Autopilot... Read more...
Self-driving cars might be the future of transportation, but for Uber, the time to pounce is now. Uber's ultimate goal is to replace the ride service's more than 1 million flesh and blood drivers with autonomous vehicles, and it wants to do it as soon as possible. While it seems premature to think about such a thing, Uber's going to let customers in downtown Pittsburgh virtually thumb rides from self-driving cars using their smartphones. Some riders who request rides will be picked up in specially modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicles. The autonomous vehicles will sport an array of sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers to navigate the roadways and avoid accidents with... Read more...
Yet another agency is looking into a fatal crash involving a 2015 Tesla Model S. The latest to don its detective cap is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is investigating whether Tesla ran afoul of securities regulations by not telling investors of the crash involving the company's self-driving car technology. The accident occurred in early May and took the life of Joshua Brown, the owner of the Model S that struck an 18-wheeler when the tractor trailer crossed in front of him on a divided highway. At the time of the accident, the vehicle's Autopilot mode was engaged. Unfortunately the sensors that detect the surroundings of the Model S failed to detect the 18-wheeler,... Read more...
Following the first fatal accident involving Tesla's autonomous vehicle technology, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is sending a team of five investigators to Florida next week to investigate the crash and the circumstances that allowed the accident to occur. That's in addition to a probe by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTS). Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety advocacy group in Washington, told Bloomberg that NTSB's probe is "very significant," adding that "the NTSB only investigates crashes with broader implications." Indeed, the NTSB has been skeptical of autonomous vehicles and has warned of the technology's downsides while... Read more...
Part of being a safe driver is knowing when to use a car horn and to what degree. It's a skill that's lost on many drivers, who instead use the horn as an outlet for their frustration at other motorists rather than a warning signal that something bad is about to happen. Google's determined to teach its fleet of autonomous vehicles the correct way to use the horn. Like so many other aspects of Google's self-driving cars, horn use relies on an algorithm. This is something Google developed slowly over time—at first, the horn would only be played inside the vehicle so that test drivers could offer feedback. This allowed Google to fine tune its horn honking algorithm without confusing other drivers.... Read more...
Not all jobs at Google entail crunching code or having familiarity with APIs. If you have a clean driving history, excellent written and verbal communication skills, can type at least 40 words per minute, and a BS or BA degree, you could end up working for Google in a position on one of its self-driving car teams (and no, not the San Andreas team). The gig pays $20 per hour to test Google's autonomous vehicles. It entails driving (or riding) in an autonomous Lexus for six to eight hours per day as it roams the city streets of Arizona. However, you wouldn't be able to just kick your legs up and take an extended nap—you'd have to monitor the software systems, take notes, and compete daily reports.... Read more...
Google has made some giant strides in its autonomous vehicle initiative logging more than 1.5 million miles testing self-driving cars to date, mostly without incident, but shocking footage of a prototype vehicle running amok in Los Santos will surely have regulators scrambling to drum up new rules. Yes, we're talking about the fictional city in Grand Theft Auto V. YouTuber 'pizzaforbreakfast' created a faux news report purporting to give a first look inside Google's bubbly self-driving car as it whizzes through the streets and sidewalks of Los Santos with reckless abandon. Carnage and hilarity ensue, as is the staple of the GTA series. "Feel free to text and drive, or take a nap for that matter.... Read more...
Imagine trying to drive at night in a secluded area with the headlights turned off. It's not something anyone should be attempting, though that's the condition Ford tested its self-driving Fusion Hybrid, and it did surprisingly well. With the headlights disabled, the Fusion Hybrid successfully navigated desert roads, highlighting the effectiveness of Ford's LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology. Don't worry, Ford isn't out in the wild testing its fleet of cars in dangerous conditions where you might run into one. This latest test took place at Ford's Arizona Proving Ground, a non-public area consisting of nearly 1,500 acres. Using LiDAR, the Fusion Hybrid was able to map out the terrain... Read more...
While Google and other companies work to improve autonomous vehicle technologies, legislatures and lawmakers are busy adopting rules and regulations to ensure that testing self-driving cars is a safe endeavor. Be that as it may, the one inescapable reality is that at some point, there's going to be a fatality involved. "There is no question that someone is going to die in this technology," Missy Cummings, a roboticist and associate professor at Duke University, stated in testimony to the U.S. Senate committee on commerce, science, and transportation. "The question is when and what can we do to minimize that." Lawmakers are intent on laying out a set of universal standards for self-driving cars,... Read more...
Building a self-driving vehicle that can cruise city roadways on sunny days is one thing, but an autonomous vehicle that can handle slippery conditions like snow and ice laden streets? That would be quite the technical feat, though not fiction -- Ford is currently conducting its first autonomous vehicle tests in snow. There's arguably no better place to do that than Mcity, a 32-acre, full-scale simulated real-world urban environment at the University of Michigan. Mcity provides a realistic driving environment that's isolated from the population at large, including police officers. It's a place that allows for all kinds of real-world driving scenarios, like running red lights or going too fast... Read more...
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