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Lyft Gets The Go-Ahead To Test Autonomous Cars In California 24
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Lyft, Reports, Tech on 11 24th, 2017


Lyft has become the latest company to be granted the green light to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in California.

The ride-hailing company hasn’t specified exactly when it intends to put the self-driving permit to use but the news comes about four months after Lyft said it will start to create its own autonomous technology.

Lyft is relatively late to the party when it comes to self-driving technologies but it hasn’t stopped that from holding it back. In fact, it has already formed partnerships with Ford, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, NuTonomy, Drive.ai, and Waymo to deploy their respective technologies through its huge fleet of vehicles.

In receiving this permit, Lyft joins the likes of VW, Mercedes-Benz, Waymo, Delphi, GM, BMW, Honda, Ford, Baidu, NVIDIA, Subaru, Apple, Samsung, and Continental to be granted testing rights in California.

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Apple Scientists Submit Paper On Autonomous Vehicle Research 22
Nov
Posted by Sergiu Tudose in Apple, Autonomous, Reports, Tech on 11 22nd, 2017


In what appears to be Apple’s first publicly disclosed paper on autonomous vehicle technology, we learn that the Cupertino giant has a better way to spot cyclists and pedestrians on the road.

The paper was submitted last week to an independent online journal by Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel, who proposed an improved way for helping computers detect three-dimensional objects, reports Autonews.

It’s called “VoxelNet” and has apparently produced “highly encouraging results” in spotting pedestrians and cyclists with just Lidar data. The pair also disclosed that they were able to beat other approaches for detecting three-dimensional objects that used only Lidar.

Usually, autonomous cars use a combination of two-dimensional cameras and deep-sensing ‘Lidar’ units in order to navigate their surroundings. Even though these units provide good depth information, their low resolution makes it difficult to detect small objects in the distance without help from a normal camera. In other words, Apple has apparently found a way to extract more performance from ‘Lidar’ technology.

It’s important to point out that these tests were simulated on a computer and did not involve any cars hitting the road.

Renderings by Aristomenis Tsirbas

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Uber Creating Tech To Eliminate Motion Sickness In Autonomous Cars 22
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Reports, Tech, Uber on 11 22nd, 2017


Uber is hoping to ensure its upcoming fleet of self-driving vehicles don’t trigger car sickness among passengers.

To do so, the ride-hailing company has applied for a patent on a selection of technologies to counter motion sickness, The Guardian reports.

In the patent are features like light bars and screens that signal the car’s intentions, vibrating and moving seats, and a flow of air that targets the face and other parts of the body in order to prevent passengers from getting sick. Uber doesn’t intend on providing stimulation to mimic the experience of the car moving, but instead wants to distract the brain when the car turns, accelerates or brakes.

In the patent, Uber says, “With the advent of autonomous vehicle technology, rider attention may be focused on alternative activities, such as work, socializing, reading, writing, task-based activities and the like.”

“As the autonomous vehicle travels along an inputted route, kinetosis (motion sickness) can result from the perception of motion by a rider not corresponding to the rider’s vestibular [balance and spatial orientation] senses.”

One intriguing feature of autonomous vehicles from Uber could be seats that automatically adjust their pitch, roll and/or yaw depending on what the car is doing.

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Jeremy Clarkson Says He Nearly Crashed While Testing An Autonomous Car 20
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Reports, Tech, The Grand Tour on 11 20th, 2017


Jeremy Clarkson claims he was almost killed while testing a driverless car on UK roads recently.

Writing in The Sunday Times, the outspoken journalist didn’t specify what semi-autonomous car he was piloting but said his experience tells him that we’re a long away from having safe and fully-autonomous vehicles on public roads, The Independent reports.

“I drove a car the other day which has a claim of autonomous capability and twice in the space of 50 miles on the M4 it made a mistake, a huge mistake, which could have resulted in death.

“We have to be very careful legally, so I’m not going to say which one,” Clarkson said.

The experience of The Grand Tour host comes at an interesting time in the UK. The country’s chancellor, Philip Hammond, is preparing to give the green light for developers to test self-driving vehicles on public roads.

In typical Clarkson style, he jokingly suggested he’ll only buy into self-driving cars when they can drive along the Death Road in Bolivia.

“You drive one of your driverless cars over the Death Road in Bolivia and I’ll buy one.

“Sit there with your hands folded and let it drive you up there, then squeeze past a lorry with half the tire hanging over a 1,000ft drop while the car drives itself. Fine, I’ll buy into it,” he said.

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Uber Getting Thousands Of Autonomous Robo-Taxis From Volvo 20
Nov
Posted by Sergiu Tudose in Autonomous, Reports, SPA, Tech, Uber, VOLVO, Volvo XC90 on 11 20th, 2017


Volvo will be supplying ride-sharing giant Uber with up to 24,000 autonomous drive compatible vehicles between 2019 and 2021.

These cars will be based on Volvo’s fully modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which is currently being used on the Swedish automaker’s 90-series cars, as well as on the new XC60 SUV.

“The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption,” said Volvo boss, Hakan Samuelsson. “Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD ride-sharing service providers globally. Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.”

These base XC90 premium SUVs that will be supplied to Uber feature all necessary safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies required by the ride sharing company. The only thing left for Uber to do is add its own self-driving features.

“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with Volvo”, said Uber’s head of auto alliances, Jeff Miller. “This new agreement puts us on a path towards mass produced self-driving vehicles at scale.”

When asked when Uber might be debuting these self-driving cars in the U.S., Miller told Autonews that it’s “sooner than most people think,” adding that his company’s objective is to “be able to operate them [the cars] without anyone behind the wheel in select cities and environments.” In other words, he’s talking about Level 4 autonomous driving, as level 5 is still far off into the future.

“I don’t know of anyone in the world who is saying they will be able to do Level 5, which is autonomous all the time everywhere in every use case.”

Even though Uber won’t be fiddling with the XC90’s powertrain, Miller also said that several modifications had to be made to the car’s steering and braking systems.

“Those are two elements that we are making modifications to so the vehicle can operate as a Level 4 autonomous vehicles as opposed to just Level 2 or Level 3. We also have to embed sensors around the vehicle. In addition to what you see on the roof, there are several sensors behind the fascia of the vehicle.”

Of course, the fact that they’re starting off with the existing XC90 makes things easier on both companies.

“This would not be possible if it was a special [one-off] vehicle,” confirmed Samuelsson.

While providing Uber with these AD-compatible cars, Volvo will also use them for its own independent autonomous car strategy, which should lead to the release of a fully autonomous model in 2021.

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UK To Introduce Fully-Autonomous Cars By 2021 20
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Reports, Tech, UK on 11 20th, 2017


Sweeping changes to regulations in the UK are set to pave the way for fully-autonomous vehicles to be on the country’s streets by 2021.

This week, Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to announce regulation changes in the budget which will permit driverless cars to test on public roads without any human operator inside or outside the vehicle. Additionally, the vehicles won’t be hit with the same legal constraints as other EU countries or the U.S.

The Guardian reports that Hammond wants to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of technological changes in the car industry as the nation prepares to leave the European Union in 2019.

Speaking about the forthcoming changes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Mike Hawes, said it will be good for the country.

“We support government’s measures to make the UK one of the best places in the world to develop, test and sell connected and autonomous vehicles. These vehicles will transform our roads and society, dramatically reducing accidents and saving thousands of lives every year, while adding billions of pounds to the economy. We look forward to continuing industry’s collaboration with government to ensure the UK can be among the first to grasp the benefits of this exciting new technology,” he said.

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Jaguar Land Rover Starts Testing Autonomous Vehicles On UK Roads 18
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Jaguar, Jaguar Land Rover, Land Rover, Reports, Tech on 11 18th, 2017


Jaguar Land Rover has commenced testing of self-driving prototypes on roads throughout the United Kingdom. In particular, according tto The Telegraph, the British automaker has been running its driverless vehicles through the country’s streets for a number of weeks already.

This is the first time these vehicles have left the confines of closed roads and tracks and been used in public. Jaguar Land Rover says that a human driver sits behind the wheel of each prototype, but for the most part the vehicle controls itself through a plethora of advanced sensors.

“We stand on the brink of a mobility revolution. The impact of the changes we are about to embrace will be huge across all sectors of the UK economy. The opportunities are great: this mobility revolution will change lives profoundly,” said JLR chief executive Ralf Speth.

While the UK hasn’t become a hotbed for autonomous vehicle testing like some U.S. states, like California, the country has quite generous laws about the testing of such vehicles. In fact, the UK never ratified the Vienna Convention, which requires drivers to have control of their vehicle at all times. This means no law changes had to be made for self-driving cars to test throughout the country.

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Smoking And Relaxing In A Tesla With Autopilot Isn’t Smart 14
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Reports, Tech, Tesla, Tesla Videos, video on 11 14th, 2017


In 10-20 years, autonomous cars could be so advanced that human passengers will never have to worry about being involved in an accident. In 2017, however, semi-autonomous vehicles still carry with them a lot of risks.

Ever since Tesla introduced its Autopilot system, we’ve seen videos of owners pushing the limits of the system and placing far too much faith in it. Take Instagram user Lilduval, for example.

A couple of days ago, the social media star shared a video of him reclining in the driver’s seat of his Tesla while smoking and paying absolutely no attention to the road, all while traveling at 75 mph (121km/h). Some believe Lilduval was smoking cannabis at the time but he suggests it was simply a cigar.

Either way, the risks being taken here cannot be underestimated. Sure, Autopilot can be quite reliable on highways but the technology has been blamed for a number of crashes in recent times. Another interesting take away from the clip is how some people seem to have misinterpreted what Autopilot is.

Despite what the name might suggest, the system does not turn a Tesla into a fully-autonomous vehicle. Instead, drivers must always remain attentive because if something goes wrong, the car will rely on the driver to get it out of a sticky situation. It is for this very reason that some companies, including Ford and Google, have opted against semi-autonomous technologies and are instead planning to jump immediately to level 5 systems.

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Could This Be The Kia Of The Future? 13
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Kia, Renderings, Tech on 11 13th, 2017


At the start of 2015, Mercedes-Benz introduced its eye-catching F 015 Luxury in Motion, a concept which it believes accurately depicts the car of the future.

Utilizing an electric powertrain, the Luxury in Motion was able to have incredibly short front and rear overhangs and a spacious interior. Perhaps inspired by this futuristic concept, Behance artist Aaron Jaryong Koo has designed a similar car, this time from Kia.

Simply dubbed the Kia Autonomous family van, the vehicle sets out to achieve exactly what its name indicates. As such, it has been designed with an interior as spacious as that of the Kia Sedona, despite being over 60 cm shorter.

As the concept is fully-autonomous, there’s no need to waste space with a traditional dashboard or steering wheel. Consequently, the concept’s interior consists of two large seats facing each other and a large bench seat to the side which could act as the perfect place to rest a child.

Upon revealing the F 015 Luxury in Motion, Mercedes-Benz indicated such a vehicle may see the light of day in 2030. If that estimate proves accurate, we could see vehicles like the Mercedes and this Kia on public roads in just over a decade.

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Could This Be The Kia Of The Future? 13
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Kia, Renderings, Tech on 11 13th, 2017


At the start of 2015, Mercedes-Benz introduced its eye-catching F 015 Luxury in Motion, a concept which it believes accurately depicts the car of the future.

Utilizing an electric powertrain, the Luxury in Motion was able to have incredibly short front and rear overhangs and a spacious interior. Perhaps inspired by this futuristic concept, Behance artist Aaron Jaryong Koo has designed a similar car, this time from Kia.

Simply dubbed the Kia Autonomous family van, the vehicle sets out to achieve exactly what its name indicates. As such, it has been designed with an interior as spacious as that of the Kia Sedona, despite being over 60 cm shorter.

As the concept is fully-autonomous, there’s no need to waste space with a traditional dashboard or steering wheel. Consequently, the concept’s interior consists of two large seats facing each other and a large bench seat to the side which could act as the perfect place to rest a child.

Upon revealing the F 015 Luxury in Motion, Mercedes-Benz indicated such a vehicle may see the light of day in 2030. If that estimate proves accurate, we could see vehicles like the Mercedes and this Kia on public roads in just over a decade.

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Renault Subtil Study Is A Transformable Pickup And SUV From The Far Future 12
Nov
Posted by Sergiu Tudose in Autonomous, concepts, Electric Vehicles, renault, Renault Concepts, Renderings, Trucks on 11 12th, 2017


The Renault Subtil was drawn to bridge the gap between SUVs and pickup trucks in the world of tomorrow.

Unfortunately, Renault isn’t planning on building this thing anytime soon. What you’re looking at is a rendering by artist Wojciech Jurkowski. In his own words, the Subtil is meant to give city folk the chance to “look for peaceful, quiet places among mountains and rivers,” and spend time “sightseeing or doing sports in the fresh air.”

If you look at the blueprints, you’ll see that the Subtil automatically converts from an SUV to a pickup, with various configurations available. It was designed to be transformed from a 4 seater with a standard luggage compartment, to a two-seater with a large luggage compartment and a two-seater with space for sports equipment (like a bike or a snowmobile). You can also put the car in autopilot mode and convert the interior into a bedroom.

The designer says you can setup the cabin in any way you want, while thanks to the car’s 360 camera system, you can use VR 3D glasses to check out the surrounding scenery.

As for what’s powering this concept, it’s 4 independent electric motors located inside the wheels, which makes sense for this type of vehicle.

All together, the Renault Subtil sounds like a very efficient and advanced means of transportation. However, we don’t see it going off-road – it basically has no ground clearance, no thanks to those massive wheel covers.

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Your Car’s Dash Could Look Like This In The Near Future 11
Nov
Posted by Sergiu Tudose in Autonomous, Electric Vehicles, Renderings, Tech on 11 11th, 2017


The second our cars gain the ability to drive all by themselves, the need for a traditional dashboard will go away.

It’s been said before that future cars will be more media-focused inside, rather than focused on functionality, since there will be no need for them to have physical buttons and switches.

This means that the gauge cluster will most likely join with the main display to form a large screen for media, navigation, settings and so on. Mercedes is already toying with the idea, even though their format is still a traditional one with gauges in front of the driver.

Now, what you’re looking at in these images, is the MIRi UX by one Jason Kim. As you can see, the main display is one gigantic piece, seamlessly split in multiple sections.

For example, on the left (apparently it’s a LHD car), you’ve got your speed indicator, odometer, range, route guidance and cruise control settings, plus whatever song you happen to be listening to. To the right of that is a large map that occupies the same space as the media section where you can watch your favorite TV show.

As for the other side of the giant display, that seems to be the “app drawer”, where you can check out your social media, download more apps, use the phone and more. Finally, beneath everything there’s a smaller screen that features climate control functions, a possibly physical hazard lights button and other important information.

Interestingly, the date on the display says June 26, 2024, which is probably hopeful thinking for this type of advanced technology.

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New Lexus LS 600h Is Jam-Packed With Driving Assistance Systems 11
Nov
Posted by Sergiu Tudose in Autonomous, LEXUS, Lexus LS, Lexus Videos, reviews, Tech, video on 11 11th, 2017


If you’re building a luxury car to compete with the likes of the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8, you best fit it with the latest in active safety technology, or risk falling behind.

Lexus knew this all too well while planning their all-new LS saloon, and the end product seems to be pretty future-proof, especially on Japanese roads where you can test out systems like automatic lane-change.

As Carwow’s Mat Watson demonstrates here, the LS is quite good at keeping you and others around you safe, during low speed maneuvers as well as in regular driving scenarios, where the driving assistance systems can take over.

Watson does point out that while the car is able to execute the lane-changing maneuvers safely, the system doesn’t look quite bullet proof. Then again, it’s not like there are any fully autonomous cars out there in the first place.

Another issue he experienced was with the Driver Emergency Stop Assist, a system that is supposed to bring the car to a halt safely if it senses that the driver is incapacitated in any way. Unfortunately, in this instance, the system disengaged before the car came to a complete stop.

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Ford CEO Says Dumb Cars Have No Future, Only Smart Ones Will Survive 11
Nov
Posted by Sergiu Tudose in Autonomous, Ford, Reports, Tech on 11 11th, 2017


Ford CEO Jim Hackett feels that once the roadways become connected, only the “smart” will survive as future cars will rely heavily on brainpower to function.

Hackett is pushing to accelerate Ford’s move into connected, electric and autonomous fields, trying to reverse a three-year stock slide with investors perceiving the blue oval as currently trailing behind GM, reports Autonews.

“Ford’s future is not about giving up the car,” said Hackett at the Michigan CEO Summit in Detroit. He then added that there are “no dumb cars in the future.”

This year, GM shares have gone up by 21%, whereas Ford has fallen 0.6% – the latter remains dependent on profits from big truck sales. However, moving forward, Ford is hoping that new mobility areas will start paying dividends.

“We have to evolve these things to be ever smarter,” added Hackett, mentioning how cars in the future will be able to see things that humans can’t.

“For a while, we didn’t see the computer as an integrated aspect. Now, think about it, my vehicle is a rolling computer.”

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Ford Creating Self-Driving System For Its Off-Roaders 10
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Ford, Reports, Tech, Trucks on 11 10th, 2017


Self-driving systems promise to revolutionize the way we use transportation to commute, but for those who enjoy off-roading, will the technology have such a significant impact?

It remains to be seen, but Ford is aware of the potential benefits and has just been granted a patent that will allow its off-road-focused vehicles to pilot themselves on a stretch of terrain, Off Road reports.

Ford’s system consists of a computer processor with stored instructions that can evaluate a section of terrain, and if it’s safe, traverse any obstacle, thanks in part to the active suspension system.

The patent shows that sensors in the vehicle will recognize an object and make a snap decision if the car can successfully navigate any challenges. If it determines that the obstacle can be overcome, it will decide whether or not it is safe for occupants to remain in the vehicle, alerting them if they can remain comfortable in their seats or should instead exit the vehicle.

Another interesting feature of the system is that it includes a hand-held remote control, potentially a device which will allow the owner to override the computer if it looks like something’s going to go wrong, like a rollover.

While other utility vehicles have downhill-descent control, Ford’s system is much more advanced, with the computers actually making decisions without driver input.

Is this the future? We sure hope so.

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