By on September 14, 2017

ford vtti autonomous research

Ford Motor Company has been funding research at Virginia Tech that takes an interesting approach to autonomous vehicle development. In early August, a reporter for an NBC affiliate in Washington D.C. filmed a video of a Ford Transit being driven by a man dressed up as the front seat of a car. Initially, it seemed like a strange campus prank. But it was later discovered that Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute was doing research on how people would respond to a self-driving vehicle.

Apparently, they’ll approach it with a camera — even if it’s in the middle of the street or flying down the highway.

Ford later released a series of hysterical images featuring the man climbing into the false seat costume, announcing that it was researching reactions to the light bar stretched across van’s windshield. The lights are intended to replace cues like hand waves or head nods between drivers and pedestrians.

Presently, drivers have the ability to motion their hand at pedestrians, indication that it’s safe for them to walk. This author takes things a step further by mouthing easy to understand phrases like, “Fear not, I have decided to spare your life and will not crush you beneath my mighty wheels if you pass” as I ambulate my fingers in a walking motion and nod my head in a slow, deliberate fashion. It usually gets the point across, but it’s nice to know Ford can save me the trouble with a bunch of blinking lights.  (Read More…)

By on July 28, 2017

autonomous hardware

Thanks to rhetoric beaten into us by the automotive industry, we know autonomous vehicles are “right around the corner.” Some manufacturers predict self-driving vehicles will be on the commercial market by an ambitiously early target date of 2021. However, those trick new rides are going to come at a premium that’ll keep them out of the hands of most normal people for a while.

LIDAR, the imaging system that allows an autonomous vehicle’s software to make sense of the road, is prohibitively expensive. High-end systems can approach the six-figure threshold while lower quality units rarely fall below 10 grand. Burgeoning technology is never affordable and automakers have traditionally found a way to produce advancements in cost-

effective ways. But the timeline for autonomous cars is too short, meaning any manufacturer wanting to sell one is going to have to have to accept the costs or defer production.  (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

Honda Targeting Introduction of Level 4 Automated Driving, Image: Honda

Honda Motor Company finally expressed an interest in developing autonomous cars on Thursday, while also stating its intention to bring two new electric vehicles to market by 2018.

The Japanese automaker has been cautious in making tech-related promises, especially those that relate to self-driving models, even as many of its rivals wear their autonomous development efforts like a badge of honor.

We knew Honda was working on the technology, but any semblance of a goal-oriented timeline was absent prior to this week. As part of its “Vision 2030” strategy, the car manufacturer claims it will coordinate R&D, procurement, and manufacturing to minimize development costs as it branches out into the realm of self-driving and electric vehicles.  (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2017

Uber (freestocks.org/Flickr)

Despite having put in as much testing time as most of the major players, experts have remained skeptical of Uber’s autonomous driving program. This isn’t because it lacks the necessary technology or hardware, but because it lacks a stable corporate environment. There have been no shortage of ugly headlines surrounding the company this year, and it’s beginning to hemorrhage essential staff members. This week, Uber lost its vice president of global vehicle programs, Sherif Marakby, and sustained another blow to its self-driving aspirations and pride.

While the ride-haling service has declined to elaborate on the reasons for Marakby’s exit, he had only been with the company since last April. After twenty-five years with Ford, Uber poached him specifically for his expertise in autonomous development and electronic safety systems.

This loss follows the departure of Uber’s president, vice president of product and growth, senior director of engineering, its head of communications, head of AI labs, and numerous members of its self-driving programs — all within the last few months. (Read More…)

By on December 15, 2016

uber volvo autonomous

Uber proudly released a fleet of eleven driverless Volvos onto the streets of San Francisco Wednesday morning and one or two immediately started running amok. One person tweeted about seeing a self-driving vehicle nearly hitting another car, while another posted a video showing an autonomous tech-equipped XC90 breezing through a red light and active pedestrian cross-walk.

Before the end of the program’s first day, people were clamoring for Uber to explain the incidents and the California Department of Motor Vehicles had sent the ride-hailing company a cease and desist letter for operating without a permit.

(Read More…)

By on November 30, 2016

neo

George Hotz has revived his Comma One self-driving technology project — sort of — after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shut down the commercial launch of his product earlier this year. Today, Hotz announced he would release the hardware schematics and code for the project for free to the public, targeting hobbyists and researchers.

The code is already up on the Comma.ai github repository, along with a detailed guide and schematics on how to assemble the hardware. Making the project open source and releasing it for free might get NHTSA off his back, so the only question now is how to monetize it in the future. (Read More…)

By on November 18, 2016

blind spot driver

Mercedes-Benz CEO Dietmar Exler thinks that the biggest problem autonomous vehicles will have to face is human drivers being dicks to them. We anticipate other unforeseen problems, but Exler’s prediction of automotive bullying seems like a safe bet.

There’s a number of ways to kick sand in a self-driving car’s face.

(Read More…)

By on October 26, 2016

GM Onstar Plus

General Motors is teaming up with IBM to implement Watson’s artificial intelligence so that it can advertise while you are trying to drive. Your dashboard is about to become a billboard.

That, Uber delivers a truckload of beer using a self-driving vehicle, Mini’s Countryman gains size and compatibility with electricity, and Hyundai’s earnings tank… after the break!

(Read More…)

By on September 20, 2016

ford-autonomous-car-technology

The federal government doesn’t want to leave the issue of autonomous vehicle safety for states to decide, and may create new powers of oversight and approval for autonomous technology.

After president Barack Obama laid out his goals for the industry in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a set of voluntary guidelines to manufacturers today, asking them to prove their vehicles are safe before entering public roadways. (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2016

FCA - Auburn Hills

It looks like the fling between Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will end up being a brief affair.

Despite partnering with FCA to test autonomous technology on a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids, the tech giant says it has no plans to take it further with the automaker, according to Reuters.

Really, it doesn’t mean anything, Google wants other companies to know. Just two self-driving Pacificas passing in the night. (Read More…)

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