Search results for: driverless cars

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Coming Soon: Licenses For Driverless Cars And Google’s New Self-Driving Vehicles

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driverlessSometime in the future, we may see robots in line at the DMV. I bet they’d take pretty good license photos. But this fall in California, humans will have to obtain licenses for the driverless cars they will “co-pilot” in a move to solidify the legality of driverless cars taking to public roads.

California is the first state to announce such a policy, as well as the terms of the licenses they’ll be granting. Applications will be available in July for September approval or denial, and the terms are, understandably, fairly strict. The applications are limited to test drivers who are employed, certified, and authorized by the manufacturer. Each license will cost $150, and one license can cover up to 10 vehicles and 20 test pilots. Each driverless car is required to have insurance covering at least $5,000,000 for personal injury, death, or property damage. The test drivers, who themselves have to meet criteria, have to be a position to take control of the cars at all times.

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The More Human Driverless Cars Seem, The More We Trust Them

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Knight RiderA recent poll conducted by PEW indicates that 50% of respondents would not ride in a driverless car. Living in Boston, I can say that I don’t really think driverless cars can be any worse than Boston drivers, although at the same time I don’t know that I’d trust a driverless car to navigate the insanity on the roads around here. Still, despite the apparent skepticism regarding this new technology, Google is busy testing theirs in California, Swedish researchers are conducting experiments on various autonomous driver systems, and professors in Chicago are researching ways to make them more trustworthy.

I haven’t driven in California, so I can’t compare the traffic to that on the East Coast, but however busy it is, Google isn’t deterred. The monolithic company conducted tests in Mountain View, where human drivers identified as many different traffic situations as possible to help develop software to help the cars respond. Driverless cars have to be able to react to everything from blinking traffic lights to the jerks that run red lights, but bit-by-bit, they’re figuring out how to enable cars to navigate city streets, which have more pitfalls than highways. Right now, the software distinguishes between pedestrians, cars, buses, cyclists, and crossing guards with signs—it even registers information from these various inputs simultaneously. So far, the cars have logged 700,000 miles on their own.

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This Is The Future Of Driverless Vehicles

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driverless carAs self-driving cars continue to advance and are beginning to appear on roadways for testing, people are starting to come around to the fact that driverless vehicles will soon be a reality. While at first it might seem scary to cede control to a machine, there’s an argument to be made that automated vehicles will perform more consistently than human-driven ones. Every time I bike or drive through Boston traffic, the single scariest aspect I encounter is road-rage, and I’d happily nominate this city’s drivers to turn over the controls to an emotionless computer and object-detecting sensors. Still, the future of self-driving vehicles is difficult to imagine, especially when it comes to its implications, which is why international design firm IDEO recently published a study called “The Future of Automobility,” which combines research and speculation about the future of automated transportation.

IDEO offers three different visions with regards to the future of transit: driverless vehicles, delivery service, and workspaces. The team tried to “take into account business, technology and disability lenses as [they] spot patterns that indicate how things may play out in the future.” One of the points the team makes is that in the future, people may not simply own vehicles—they might instead own access to vehicles. That possibility makes a lot of sense in conjunction with the rise of companies such as Zip Car and Uber. Services that deliver both people and goods will be greatly enhanced. Instead of calling and waiting for a vehicle, they’ll be equipped with software that allows them to process information from texts and calendars to anticipate where customers will be and when. Users will be able to plan everything from a pick-up time and location to the music for the ride.

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XchangE Provides A Glimpse Of A Future Where Cars Drive Us

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rinspeedWe’ve written about driverless cars before, but this burgeoning industry is already advancing by leaps and bounds, as evidenced by a new vehicle design by Swiss company Rinspeed. XchangE, which right now is only a concept car, fast-forwards 10-15 years in the future, when driverless cars are no longer a novelty, but the norm. Since people won’t have to drive anymore, they can be passengers, which means that they can stop eating and reading and primping at the wheel and just do all those things like they would on a train, plane, or even in their own living rooms. Of course, that means that the XchangE has to be all kinds of suped-up.

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Driverless People-Movers Being Tested In The EU

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CityMobil2We’ve all heard of driverless cars by now, but what about driverless taxis? The EU’s CityMobil2 project is conducting research and setting up a pilot program for driverless transportation systems in five European cities (sites are currently bidding to see who will host the six-month project). Each city will receive two sets of people movers for a six- to eight-month pilot project.

Automated Road Passenger Transport systems, or Cybernetic Transport Systems (CTS), use automated cybercars to transport passengers. They can adjust to high-volume and low-volume times more effectively than traditional mass transportation systems, and they can more efficiently navigate pick-ups located far apart and operated on-demand, which draws comparisons to taxis, rather than other, bigger people-movers.

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Virtual Reality Helps Scientists Read Robots’ Minds, Here’s How

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robot thoughts

photo courtesy of Melanie Gonick, MIT

A few weeks ago, GFR reported on a robot that had trouble figuring out how to “save” robots representing humans during a study. The automaton was often unable to figure out whether to save one human-bot or the other, often resulting in it being stymied into a state of paralysis, resulting in the “death” of both. While it was clear that the robot was having an Asimovian breakdown because it couldn’t save everyone, researchers couldn’t tell what the reasoning was—or how exactly the programming functioned (or didn’t, as the case may be). But now, thanks to another advancement at MIT, we may be able to read robots’ minds, or at the very least, gain some insight into their intentions.

The scientists used a simpler task than the one that stymied the robot before—this time, instead of saving a human, they only had to reach the other side of the room without crashing into the “pedestrian.” Thus, what the robot has to “think” about is the best route, the one that will both minimize an encounters with the pedestrian while getting it across the room as quickly as possible. Thanks to a new visualization system, called “measurable virtual reality” (MVR) by its creators, scientists can see the robots “thoughts,” or at least their process.