Items tagged with autonomous vehicles

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...
Google isn't feeling the love from California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which drafted a set of rules on autonomous vehicles that set several restrictions on their use. As currently conceived, driverless cars would be required to have a steering wheel, pedals, and a licensed driver behind the wheel in case something goes awry. It sounds reasonable on the surface, but from Google's vantage point, the DMV is essentially placing a ceiling on autonomous driving technology. Google is looking to totally transform the driving experience and has designed vehicles that, when finished, would lack a steering wheel or pedals. Part of the thinking behind that approach is to make the technology... Read more...
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