Tag Archives: Autonomous Cars

Stewart wants to be the middleman between you and your autonomous car


This tactile interface is designed for fully autonomous cars and hopes to help mediate the trust issues between man and machine.


Self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic idea, with an estimated 10 million expected to hit the roads by 2020. In fact, companies like Mercedes, BMW, Tesla and Nissan are among countless others that have already begun to implement these autonomous features into their automobiles. Although such vehicles offer obvious benefits such as faster travel times, enhanced safety and more convenience, some folks believe it eliminates a sense of freedom, expression and control while behind the wheel. In order to promote a positive relationship between man and his machine, Felix Ros has developed Stewart — a servo-controlled joystick that will help overcome society’s reluctance in embracing fully autonomous vehicles.

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Stewart will provide you with constant updates about the car’s behavior and its intentions. However, if you don’t agree on the car’s next course of action, you can manipulate the tactile interface to change this. The device will learn from you in the same way that you can learn from it, hopefully resulting in a mutually trusting relationship. It should be noted that Stewart is merely a middleman between the autonomous vehicle and its driver, and is no way intended to actually control the car.

Through nuanced force feedback, Stewart will tell you what the car plans to do next, such as which direction it will choose and whether it will accelerate or brake. Yet, if you disagree with the vehicle’s planned course of action, you can intervene with the joystick to get the car to take your preferred route, or to simply drive in a different style. According to Ros, this puts emotion back into driving within the margins of what is considered safe.

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“So why would you want to control a car that drives itself? Learning to trust a (new) technology takes time. A feeling of control can help to build a mutually trustful relationship,” Ros explains. “Humans are very unpredictable creatures that tend to change their minds frequently. For example: while driving you want to make a detour or you may need a coffee break. These changes of plan can easily be communicated to the car trough Stewart.”

Stewart is equipped with six servos, which are controlled by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328). A Processing sketch calculates the transition of all the six degrees of freedom and feeds that information to the Arduino. Intrigued? Check out the Maker’s official page here, as well as his step-by-step breakdown on Instructables.

Driverless cars to hit Australian roads as soon as November


The ARRB Group has announced its first on-road trial of driverless cars.


The possibility of driverless cars in Australia is now one step closer to becoming a reality with autonomous vehicles set to hit the streets of Adelaide in November as part of the country’s first-ever road trials.

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Led by the the national road safety research agency ARRB Group, the pilot will be a collaboration between Telstra, Bosch and Volvo, who will be supplying its next generation XC90. For its initial test, the self-driving SUVs will be traveling at speeds of up to 62 mph on closed sections of the highway. Upon observation, the researchers will be able to better understand what it is that will be required to make this technology safe for Australian roads.

ARRB group managing director Gerard Waldron said automated vehicles are far from science fiction, but rather a short-term reality that the country needs to be prepared for.

“The trials in South Australia this November will be the first of many trials nationally, with discussions underway in a number of jurisdictions. We’re seeking technology and automotive industry partners to assist us in Australia’s driverless vehicle innovation,” Waldron explains. “Driverless cars have a range of benefits that could significantly improve road safety and the quality of life of everyday Australians, add to the nation’s economic competitiveness and help relieve rapidly growing congestion that is crippling our infrastructure and creating productivity deficits in our capital cities.”

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The agency’s latest initiative puts Australia right behind the UK, U.S. and Sweden as global leaders in automated vehicle research. The trials in South Australia later this year will be the first of many nationally, with discussions already underway in a number of other jurisdictions.

“ARRB will establish how driverless technology needs to be manufactured and introduced for uniquely Australian driving behaviour, our climate and road conditions, including what this means for Australia’s national road infrastructure, markings, surfaces and roadside signage,” Waldron adds.

Volvo Australia managing director Kevin McCann believes that the technnology will deliver a wide range of benefits, even with a human behind the wheel, including improved traffic safety and fuel economy, reduced congestion, as well as the opportunity for better infrastructure planning.

Hosted by the South Australian Government, the pilot is expected to coincide with a Driverless Vehicle Conference on November 5-6th. Other partners supporting ARRB’s efforts include the RAA, Adelaide Airport Limited, Flinders University, Cohda Wireless and Carnegie Mellon University.

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Volvo isn’t the only car manufacturers vying for the market, though, as Audi has its sights set on a a driverless A8 available by 2017, Nissan with plans of their own by 2019 and Ford by 2020. Aside from that, the University of Michigan recently opened what they’re calling “Mcity,” the world’s first controlled environment specifically designed to test the potential of automated vehicle technologies that will lead the way to mass-market driverless cars.

So when it comes to Internet-enabled automobiles, it’s not so much an “if” it will happen as it is “when.” And with reports calling for one in five to be connected by 2020, not to mention new revelations around security, design will surely play an integral role in the process of bringing these cars mainstream.

Remotely control your Range Rover with your smartphone like James Bond


Jaguar Land Rover’s new system lets drivers use their smartphone to back up out of a parking space and make their way around obstacles.


James Bond’s remote-controlled car from the blockbuster hit “Tomorrow Never Dies” has become a reality. While it may not be an Ericsson phone in command, Jaguar Land Rover has unveiled a new prototype SUV that can be driven via a mobile app.

While it may seem a bit absurd at first glance, there are some practical use cases for it. Think about those times where you’ve been jammed in a parking spot and were unable to open the door because someone else was too close. Or, perhaps a time when it would have been much safer to be guided through a series of off-road obstacles when you weren’t inside. While a vast majority of the conversation on autonomous cars to date have been focused on the driver being behind the wheel, not as much has been centered around the user being outside of it.

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In pretty the same fashion as a child would play with their RC toy car, Jaguar Land Rover’s latest system lets a driver turn a virtual steering wheel image on their smartphone’s screen, using their fingers to control maneuvering, accelerating, braking and ever gear shifting. The app, which employs the same sensors that its vehicles currently rely on for their autonomous parking features, enables a user to walk alongside their car at the top speed of 4mph, and within a range of about 30 feet.

Take rock crawling or bad weather, for example. Drivers can continually check ramp, approach and departure angles and allow precise positioning of the vehicle, as well as traverse slippery areas covered by ice and snow. The remote control function will only operate if the smart key can be detected, and will stop the vehicle if the driver ever moves out of range or gets too close.

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Meanwhile, a second prototype was also revealed that is capable of doing its own 180-degree, multi-point turns. This should come as great news for those not so great at maneuvering their vehicle, especially on busy or narrow streets. According to the automaker, this driverless SUV could extricate itself from the most difficult situations by taking over gear selection, steering, braking and acceleration to complete as many forward and backwards movements necessary to get the job done. This is accomplished through a set of embedded sensors that assess the available space and avoid pedestrians or other objects in its way.

“Research into technologies like these won’t only help us deliver an autonomous car. They will help make real driving safer and more enjoyable. The same sensors and systems that will help an autonomous car make the right decisions, will assist the driver and enhance the experience to help prevent accidents. Autonomous car technologies will not take away the fun of driving,” explains Dr. Wolfgang Epple, Jaguar Land Rover Director of Research and Technology.

The company has even revealed a range of new road safety research projects that are being developed to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers who are stressed, distracted and not concentrating on what lies ahead. By adopting technology typically used throughout sports, medicine and aerospace, the vehicle will be able to monitor a person’s heart rate, respiration and levels of brain activity through sensors embedded within the steering wheel.

What’s more, the UK-based team is looking into innovations that would diminish the amount of time the driver’s eyes are off the road while driving, and how to communicate with the driver via pulses through the accelerator pedal. The basis of this project is to see if a car could effectively read the brainwaves that indicate a driver is beginning to daydream, or feeling sleepy, whilst driving. An on-board computer will then assess whether someone is alert enough and emit vibration or warning sound accordingly.

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“If brain activity indicates a daydream or poor concentration, then the steering wheel or pedals could vibrate to raise the driver’s awareness and re-engage them with driving,” Dr. Epple adds. “If Mind Sense does not detect a surge in brain activity following the car displaying a warning icon or sound, then it could display it again, or communicate with the driver in a different way, to ensure the driver is made aware of a potential hazard.”

Beyond that, Jaguar Land Rover is in the process of devising medical-grade sensors that will be hidden within the front seat, particularly for the Jaguar XJ luxury sedan. Monitoring the physical health of the driver could not only detect the onset of sudden and serious illness that may incapacitate them, but will enable the car to monitor stress levels. This would let the car help reduce stress, for instance by changing mood lighting, audio settings and climate control. And in future cars with self-driving capabilities, it could sense whether someone was having a seizure or a heart attack, and automatically take control of the wheel.

Report: 1 in 5 cars will be connected by 2020


The increased consumption and creation of digital content within cars will lead to sophisticated information and entertainment systems.


If you buy a car within the next five years, it’s likely that it will be Internet-enabled. That’s the prediction Gartner has shared, anyway. The market research firm has released its latest report that expects there to be approximately 250 million connected cars on the road by 2020, paving the way for new in-vehicle services and automated driving capabilities. In other words, one in five vehicle will boast some sort of wireless network connection.

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During the next five years, the proportion of new vehicles equipped with this capability will increase dramatically, making connected cars an integral element of the rapidly-growing Internet of Things (IoT) — an area Gartner forecasts will entail 4.9 billion connected things in use this year and will reach 25 billion by 2020.

“The connected car is already a reality, and in-vehicle wireless connectivity is rapidly expanding from luxury models and premium brands, to high-volume midmarket models,” explained James F. Hines, Gartner Research Director. “The increased consumption and creation of digital content within the vehicle will drive the need for more sophisticated infotainment systems, creating opportunities for application processors, graphics accelerators, displays and human-machine interface technologies. At the same time, new concepts of mobility and vehicle usage will lead to new business models and expansion of alternatives to car ownership, especially in urban environments.”

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The proliferation of vehicle connectivity will have implications across the major functional areas of telematics, automated driving, infotainment and mobility services. Driving the adoption of connected car technology is the expansion of high-bandwidth wireless network infrastructure, rising expectations for access to mobile content and better service from smartphones and tablets. While many of the major automakers have rolled out connected cars in a number of limited models, in-vehicle wireless connectivity is rapidly expanding from luxury and premium brands to high-volume mid-market versions. Take for instance, General Motors, Hyundai and Chrysler, who have each partnered with telecoms AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, respectively.

By 2018, two automakers will have announced plans to become technology companies and expand their connected-vehicle value experiences to other industries and devices, Gartner said in a report last year. And over the next five years, at least one auto company will achieve 10% of its total revenues from connected mobility and service offerings.

“The increased consumption and creation of digital content within the vehicle will drive the need for more sophisticated infotainment systems, creating opportunities for application processors, graphics accelerators, displays and human-machine interface technologies,” Hines stated.

As the amount of information being fed into in-car head unit or telematics systems grows, vehicles will be able to capture and share not only internal systems status and location data, but also changes in surroundings in real-time, Computer World writes. Ultimately, your car will become just another part of your mobile data plan.

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“To facilitate that kind of shift, connected-vehicle leaders in automotive organizations need to partner with existing ecosystems like Android Auto or Apple CarPlay that can simplify access to and integration of general mobile applications into the vehicle,” Gartner Analyst Thilo Koslowski shared in last year’s report.

The Gartner report follows recent revelations from IBM, who in the company’s Automotive 2025 study found that a majority of executives believe cars will become more personalized for drivers over the next 10 years, but autonomous vehicles and self-driving cars will not yet be ubiquitous. In fact, IBM anticipates that by 2025, vehicles will be intelligent enough to configure themselves to a driver and other occupants. In other words, cars will be able to learn, heal, drive and socialize with others on the road, and their surrounding environment through vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

Without question, the demand for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is on the rise as well. According to ABI Research analysts, the market is expected to grow from $11.1 billion last year to $91.9 billion by 2020, hitting the $200 billion mark by 2024. Fueling that growth is the expansion of the technology from high-end luxury vehicles to more affordable cars and mini automobiles. One of the most popular systems on high-end vehicles, adaptive cruise control (ACC), will continue to gain popularity across all vehicle segments, with shipments experiencing a CAGR of 69% between 2014 and 2020.

 

GM says driverless Cadillac to hit the road by 2017

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, has recently announced that the company plans to introduce 120-miles of technology-enabled highways in and around the Motor City.

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By 2017, GM is planning on deploying vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication systems as a standard in its Cadillac CTS sedan. Equipped with the company’s “Super Cruise” technology, future vehicles will be able to drive themselves, handling highway speeds of up to 70mph. GM’s semi-automated technology will keep a vehicle in a specific, properly equipped freeway lane, making necessary steering and speed adjustments in bumper-to-bumper traffic or long highway trips. However, unlike the driverless vehicle being tested by Google, GM’s system will still require drivers to remain attentive and ready to resume control of the vehicle.

Although Google’s driverless cars have been at the center of all the buzz, several automakers aren’t too far behind in the IoT fast lane. According to reports, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Tesla are among the latest manufactures dipping their toes into the autonomous driving waters.

In line with our previous discussions around V2V, these new GM endorsed roadways will allow cars to “talk” with one another, thereby promoting safety, reducing traffic congestion and improving fuel economy. Jon Lauckner, GM’s CTO believes, “in the not so distant future, intelligent and connected vehicle technologies could help eliminate the crash altogether.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation has also recently said it is considering adopting a rule by 2016 requiring V2V systems. V2V communications use a variation of the 802.11 wireless network standard used by laptops and mobile phones, but instead link cars, which can share position and speed information with each other 10 times per second.

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“I’m convinced customers will embrace V2V and automated driving technologies for one simple reason: they are the answer to everyday problems that people want solved,” Barra said.

According to GM’s CEO, the so-called Super Cruise technology will “kick in when there’s a congestion alert on roads like California’s Santa Monica Freeway, you can let the car take over and drive hands free and feet free through the worst stop-and-go traffic around.” She adds, “If the mood strikes you on the high-speed road from Barstow, California, to Las Vegas, you can take a break from the wheel and pedals and let the car do the work. Having it done for you — that’s true luxury.”

That being said, safety remains the paramount concern when assimilating driverless vehicles onto modern roadways. “The key to all these systems is big data — the mounds of information flowing in and out of your vehicle from intelligent transportation systems, otherwise known as vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure technology,” Forbes‘ Joann Muller explains.

At this week’s Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress in Detroit, Honda and GM unveiled systems where pedestrian smartphones would send alerts to drivers about an individual’s location. These alerts, scanned for every 10 seconds by the vehicle, could greatly improve pedestrian safety in heavily-trafficked areas.

While full vehicle autonomy may not be on the immediate horizon, there are still concrete steps being taken by major industry players to get ahead of the technology curve. With some driverless cars hitting the streets next year, this topic of discussion will only heat up.

 

Self-driving cars will hit UK roads in 2015

The UK government has announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads beginning this January. Cities throughout the UK can place bids to become test-driving areas for the driverless vehicles; however, out of the applicant pool, only three will be chosen.

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Though several engineering groups, including one from the University of Oxford, have been experimenting with self-driving technology on private roads, the upcoming government-funded tests will mark the first time self-driving cars will be permitted on public roads. These test periods will last anywhere between 18 and 36 months, Mashable reports.

In addition to joining a number of U.S. states in allowing them public road usage, ministers have ordered a review of UK road regulations to accommodate the vehicles prior to their 2015 arrival. Other countries have, however, been swifter to provide access to public routes. As Mashable notes, the U.S. states of California, Nevada and Florida have all approved tests of the vehicles. In California alone, Google’s driverless car has done more than 300,000 miles on the open road. In 2013, Nissan carried out Japan’s first public road test of an autonomous vehicle on a highway. And in Europe, the Swedish city of Gothenburg has given Volvo permission to test 100 driverless cars – although that trial is not scheduled to occur until 2017.

“Driverless cars have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network — they could improve safety, reduce congestion and lower emissions, particularly CO2,” Transport Minister Claire Perry said in the recent statement.

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“The announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society,” explained Business Secretary Vince Cable.

British cities interested in becoming test areas have until October 1, 2014, to declare a bid. The three selected cities will receive a £10 million stipend (approximately $17 million) to be divided equally among them, the official press release states. At this point, it’s not public knowledge yet as to which companies will produce the self-driving cars.