Autonomous mobile robots from Chinese technology company Hikvision. These robots are ultra-efficient at tasks like sorting packages, moving pallets, and parking cars. The video from Hikvision shows the impressive bots in action.
Renault-Nissan Alliance will start working with transportation-technology consultant Transdev on autonomous electric-vehicle testing near Paris.
In addition to San Francisco, GM and Cruise are testing autonomous Bolts in Arizona and Michigan.
EPA settles with Halliburton of Clean Air Act violations. Wheego Electric Cars becomes Wheego Technologies. HART partners with Tesla.
Welsh writers love this Welsh FCEV. Singapore’s self-driving surge continues. FCHEA touts fuel cell tech in the Northeast.
Fully driverless cars just got a lot closer to reality, but they’re going to require sacrifices at first.
In an effort to advance their design reputation, Renault has engaged in a bold design exercise in their Trezor concept car unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. The all-electric, autonomous-driving-capable two-seater is as wildly impractical as any concept car, though some of the styling cues are expected to pop up in their future production lineup.
There is one interesting aspect to the design that no one seems to be discussing, and we’d like to get your feedback on it. Take a look at the video and see what jumps out at you:
No, we’re not talking about the crazy canopy. What interests us is the bit about how the exterior lighting changes when the car is being used in autonomous mode, to signal to other drivers that there is no human at the wheel.
The feature is of interest because currently, the only design element of current cars that are intended to communicate with other drivers are the turn signals. So our first question is, why is Renault proposing the Autonomous lighting scheme? To signal to surrounding drivers that extra care ought be taken as the human driver is otherwise engaged?
The second question is how this design language will be worked out. What pattern of lighting would signify “Autonomous,” and how would other drivers understand that that’s what it stood for? Would there be an industry-wide standard and some type of awareness campaign to educate the masses?
Bottom line: How useful would you find such a feature?
If autonomous cars become statistically safer than human drivers, which all parties working on such technology believe, then it seems the lighting alert would be unnecessary. However, it has jarred an idea: What I’d like to see on current, non-autonomous cars is an easily-discernible exterior light that illuminates when the driver is texting or otherwise engaged with his phone. Then I would know to steer well clear.
The Google car team has recently been teaching the car’s AI when and how to honk the horn and give the human drivers on the road a helpful heads up.
The German Aerospace Center autonomously lands a drone on top of a moving car. Autoblog‘s Mylencia Gillenwaters reports on this edition of Autoblog Minute.
Ford and Google are expected to announce a major partnership to develop self-driving vehicles during the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show.
GRAMMY award winning artist and actor Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges sits down with Autoblog to talk about flying cars, Tesla and his 1993 Acura Legend. Autoblog‘s Eddie Sabatini reports on this edition of Autoblog Minute featuring an original interview with Ludacris.
Mcity in Ann Arbor, Michigan has all the makings of a small city—streets up to 5 lanes wide, cross-sections and stoplights, underpasses, buildings, vandalized signs, faded lane markings—all poised on a 32-acre site on the University of Michigan’s campus. The elaborate mise en scène at Mcity is part of the newly formed Mobility Transformation Center, where researchers study and test the behavior of automated and connected cars.
The testing facilities at Mcity are the first of their kind, specifically designed to simulate the everyday bedlam of the streets—with all the built-in surprises that comprise life in the city. The mock-town is equipped with rearrangeable architecture, various types of road surfaces and everything from suburban streets to freeways, where the newest vehicle technologies are seen in action (and, most importantly, in reaction). Here, researchers push the limits of these systems by emulating the real experiences that drivers grapple with everyday, like blind corners and distracted pedestrians (Mcity’s are robotic), as well as communications with other vehicles and GPS and traffic databases.
U-M partnered with the Michigan Department of Transportation and several car companies to open the space this July in preparation for the impending arrival of driverless streets, which, they say, could be 10 to 15 years from now. That date may seem far away as many cars can already perform on autopilot with impressive results and Google cars are already commonly seen in Silicon Valley. But we’re still far from a fully-automated road—and rushing to hand off the wheel entirely has already proven catastrophic. With a keen focus on automation, car companies today increasingly employ technologies to keep an eye on the driver—and make sure that the driver, in turn, is keeping an eye on the road. This makes Mcity all the more attractive to U-M commercial partners—companies like Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, State Farm, Verizon, and Xerox.
A driver’s instinct for reacting to surprises can only come from experience; translating that know-how into a vehicle’s software is the crux of fully ‘teaching’ cars how to drive themselves. But if we succeed, that ability to drive could be lost to humans, as some experts warn, and we’ll be left at the mercy of cars to handle emergencies. Scenarios like these beg consideration that the obstacles to a driverless future may not be only technical. In any case, Mcity and centers who follow in its footsteps will be key to understanding automation in the real world and making future cars compatible with unpredictable city streets.
Thorstin Crijns started his Autonomous Human Transport project for one reason: “To create a fully autonomous quadcopter that can transport people without any human intervention,” he writes. “In order to be useful for the common public it should fly without requiring a human pilot.”
Sure this sounds kooky, but what impressed us is that Crijns—who’s not even a mechanical engineer in his native Holland, but a software engineer—actually built the craft he envisioned, the Quadro, and readily straps himself into it to take short test jumps:
Obviously that’s him piloting it, but presumably he’s just trying to work out the flight kinks. Those of you physics nerds that want to check out his equations can see them here, and Crijns has more test flight footage here.
Under Crijns’ vision (can any Dutch speakers tell me if those two words rhyme?) we’d summon a Quadro via a smartphone app, punch in our destination and it would whisk us away. Obviously there are huge infrastructure challenges beyond the initial ones of making the craft itself safe, meaning government intervention would be required for implementation; think landing zones, traffic patterns and such. And even though I’m afraid of heights, when I ask myself if I’d take one of these in Manhattan, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” It can’t be any more terrifying than your typical yellow cab ride.