Tag Archives: Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles and IoT are the most-hyped technologies of 2015

Gartner’s latest Hype Cycle reveals intelligent robots and smart home products are now closer to mainstream. 

Another year, another Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. New to the report in 2015 is the emergence of technologies that support what the firm defines as “digital humanism” — the notion that people are the central focus in the manifestation of digital businesses and digital workplaces.


“The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies is the broadest aggregate Gartner Hype Cycle, featuring technologies that are the focus of attention because of particularly high levels of interest, and those that Gartner believes have the potential for significant impact,” said Betsy Burton, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “This year, we encourage CIOs and other IT leaders to dedicate time and energy focused on innovation, rather than just incremental business advancement, while also gaining inspiration by scanning beyond the bounds of their industry.”

Major changes in the 2015 Hype Cycle include the placement of autonomous vehicles, which have shifted from pre-peak to peak. While autonomous vehicles are still embryonic, this movement represents a significant advancement, with all major automotive companies putting autonomous vehicles on their near-term roadmaps. Similarly, the growing momentum (from post-trigger to pre-peak) of the smart home has introduced entirely new solutions and platforms enabled by new technology providers and existing manufacturers.

One of the newcomers to this year’s list is smart dust. Categorized in the “innovation trigger” section, smart dust refers to a collection of tiny dust-like sensors or devices which can be used to detect factors like light or sound.

Gartner has defined a set of six “business era models” that enterprises can aspire to in the future. However, since the Hype Cycle is purposely focused on more emerging technologies, it mostly supports the last three of these stages. These include: digital marketing (stage 4), digital business (stage 5) and autonomous (stage 6).

The digital marketing stage sees the emergence of the Nexus of Forces (mobile, social, cloud and information). Enterprises in this stage focus on new and more sophisticated ways to reach consumers, who are more willing to participate in marketing efforts to gain greater social connection, or product and service value. According to the analysts, enterprises that are seeking to achieve this should consider gesture control, hybrid cloud computing, Internet of Things, machine learning, people-literate technology, and speech-to-speech translation.

Moreover, digital business is the first “post-nexus stage” on the roadmap and focuses on the convergence of people, business and things, with the IoT and the concept of blurring the physical and virtual worlds playing prominent roles. Physical assets become digitalized and become equal actors in the business value chain alongside already-digital entities, such as systems and apps.

Gartner notes that enterprises seeking to go past the Nexus of Forces technologies to become a digital business should look to 3D bioprinting, human augmentation, affective computing, augmented reality, bioacoustics sensing, biochips, brain-computer interface, citizen data science, connected home, cryptocurrencies, digital dexterity, digital security, enterprise 3D printing, intelligent robots, smart advisors, gesture control, micro data centers, quantum computing, software-defined security, virtual reality, and wearables.

Lastly, autonomous represents the final “post-nexus stage.” This stage is defined by an enterprise’s ability to leverage technologies that provide human-like or human-replacing capabilities, such as using autonomous vehicles to move people or products and employing cognitive systems to recommend a potential structure for an answer to an email, write texts or answer customer questions. Enterprises seeking to reach this stage to gain competitiveness should consider self-driving cars, smart dust, virtual personal assistants, and volumetric and holographic displays.

“Although we have categorized each of the technologies on the Hype Cycle into one of the digital business stages, enterprises should not limit themselves to these technology groupings,” added Burton. “Many early adopters have embraced quite advanced technologies, for example, autonomous vehicles or smart advisors, while they continue to improve nexus-related areas, such as mobile apps.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out Gartner’s entire report here.

[Image: Gartner]

This 1971 video shows one of the earliest self-driving cars

“Look, no hands!” While it may be hard to believe, this driverless car is from 1971. 

Though autonomous vehicles may be all the rage as of late, the idea isn’t all that new. Just take a look at this video from 1971 — which is among a series of newly-released archive footage by the Associated Press and British Movietone — that shoes a mysterious driverless car being studied at Britain’s Road Research Laboratory.


The commentator introducing the futuristic technology claims the automobile is “the shape of things to come in highway travel,” and speculates that it will be part of everyday use by the year 2000.

According to the video, the system consisted of “computerized electronic impulses that are relayed to the car through a special receiving unit fixed to the front. Signals picked up from the inlaid track were interpreted by the unit to change the car’s course or its speed.” The narrator goes on to compare it to the autopilot system used in planes.

Impressively, the researchers at the lab developed the self-driving car without most of the technology readily accessible to automakers today. And while they may be 15 or so years off in terms of their timeline, the prediction was pretty darn accurate. Today, autonomous vehicles are being trailed on a 32-acre test facility at the University of Michigan, while Google has already been experimenting with cars of their own in California.

Video: Audi’s self-driving car hits the race track

Audi will be debuting its RS 7 Piloted Driving Concept under what may arguably be one of the most challenging conditions possible. In its effort to bring self-driving vehicles to the streets, the car manufacturer is hitting the race track to see just how its unmanned vehicles stack up against human drivers.

The driverless car will lap the Hockenheim track on October 17th and 19th at racing speeds ranging from 149 to 189.5 miles per hour. With 560PS (552hp), the Piloted Driving Concept is not your average autonomous car. According to the car manufacturer, the prototype is quite similar to the production model with the exception of its electromechanical power steering, brakes, throttle valve and eight-speed Tiptronic transmission being controlled automatically.

“We’re going into the curves, the cornering, just like a professional race driver. So for example, we have lateral accelerations of more than 1g,” Audi says in its promo video.


How will the vehicle stay on the track? The technology platform is equipped with specially-corrected GPS signals for orientation — these differential GPS data are accurate down to a centimeter and transmitted to the vehicle via WLAN. In addition, 3D camera images are compared in real-time against graphical information stored onboard. The system searches in each of the countless individual images for several hundred known features, such as building patterns behind the track, which it then uses as additional positioning information.

“The car is really able to cope with situations it was not directly taught. It handles unexpected things very well,” an Audi rep explained.

As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, forecasts are calling for 94.7 million vehicles equipped with self-driving capabilities to be sold annually around the world by 2035. Moreover, Gartner believes autonomous vehicles are set to disrupt the business dynamics of at least one-third of the industries in the developed world. From Mercedes and GM to Tesla and Google, a number of companies are already in the process of developing autonomous vehicles that will do everything from park themselves to take over the driver’s seat in traffic.