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Self-Driving Cars Take A Step Closer To Reality


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Self-Driving Cars Take A Step Closer To Reality

By Viknesh Vijayenthiran

Editor

November 24th, 2010

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Autonomous or ‘self-driving’ cars have been around for a while, at least in prototype form. In fact, just this week we reported on Audi’s autonomous TTS, which successfully charted the grueling 12.42 mile Pikes Peak run.

However, about a year ago we reported on a government-backed initiative in Europe called SARTRE (SAfe Road TRains for the Environment), which was being launched to develop and test technology for vehicles that can drive themselves in long road trains on highways. The technology has the potential to improve traffic flow and journey times, offer greater comfort to drivers, reduce accidents, and improve fuel consumption and hence lower CO2 emissions.

Today the initiative has announced that it has completed one year of the three year program and is now aiming at carrying out the first development tests of a single lead and following vehicle before the end of the year.

Most of the first year has been busy with the concept phase, which has involved a seven partner consortium that includes automaker Volvo. The next phase will involve the installation of the necessary hardware into two vehicles, implementation of vehicle- to-vehicle communications, incorporation and integration of sensors, and low level actuator and lateral and longitudinal control of the following vehicle.

The crucial software integration needed for driving automation has already commenced, and the first tests of a two vehicle train are expected to take place before the end of December. Subsequent phases of the work to be carried out in 2011 and early 2012 will see the concept demonstrated on a five-vehicle road train with strategies handling interaction with other road users.

link:

http://www.motorauthority.com/blog/1051865_self-driving-cars-take-a-step-closer-to-reality

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Right... because an average of 1.2 people for every one ICE ranging anywhere from 1.3 litres to 7.0 litres is a totally energy efficient way to travel.....

If only we had a way to combine all of those travelers into a single unified transit unit that ran over predetermined routes operated by a professional pilot where users could join or disembark at set points and either join another unified transit device to a further destination, an airfoil transit pod,or rent a personal travel pod for transportation to their final destination, some of these single unified transit units would even allow you to take your privately owned personal travel pod with you on your journey... that would be the most energy efficient.

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That guy pictured above looks like your average idiot commute, who does all that while trying to drive their car.

I'm all for it s long as it's defeatable when you feel like driving yourself, and doesn't become some mandatory thing. But by all means, take the wheel away from the moron and let the more intelligent car do the work.

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I'm so excited for this technology. It will increase mobility and productivity massively.

Right... because an average of 1.2 people for every one ICE ranging anywhere from 1.3 litres to 7.0 litres is a totally energy efficient way to travel.....

If only we had a way to combine all of those travelers into a single unified transit unit that ran over predetermined routes operated by a professional pilot where users could join or disembark at set points and either join another unified transit device to a further destination, an airfoil transit pod,or rent a personal travel pod for transportation to their final destination, some of these single unified transit units would even allow you to take your privately owned personal travel pod with you on your journey... that would be the most energy efficient.

Trains again? People abandoned that nonsense in the 30s. There's a reason everyone in every poor country buys a personal car as soon as they possibly can. Having your own transportation that you take from your own house, to precisely where you want to go, is one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century.

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I can't even describe just how much I hate this.

Absolutely soul-killing.

I have no qualms provided it is programmed to keep right, pass left. And that manual-drive is not legislated out of existence.

That guy pictured above looks like your average idiot commute, who does all that while trying to drive their car.

I'm all for it s long as it's defeatable when you feel like driving yourself, and doesn't become some mandatory thing. But by all means, take the wheel away from the moron and let the more intelligent car do the work.

This sounds like a great idea. If you have to take a lengthy trip on the highway, you can search for the nearest train of cars, lock in behind it, and then do other things while you sit in the train. When you want to leave the train, you just pull out of it and the cars behind you in the train just pull up to fill the gap. This has the advantages of taking the bus/train without the disadvantages of not having your own vehicle. Of course you're still going to be using fuel, and I imagine things would be pretty dangerous in poor weather conditions (what if someone behind you doesn't have as good of brakes/tires and the car train needs to slow down rapidly?).

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I'm so excited for this technology. It will increase mobility and productivity massively.

Trains again? People abandoned that nonsense in the 30s. There's a reason everyone in every poor country buys a personal car as soon as they possibly can. Having your own transportation that you take from your own house, to precisely where you want to go, is one of the greatest hits to energy efficiency of the 20th century.

If you read closely, I cited trains, buses, automobiles, and airplanes. The only 2 modes of transportation I neglected were boats and walking. The point I was making was that private self navigating transportation pods are neither energy efficient nor practical nor safe, selecting the appropriate mode of transportation for the trip you are making is what is most important. As in all of our arguments about transportation, you seem to think that I am advocating just one over the others. I am not. I advocate a very healthy mix of all modes of transportation such that there is a wide variety of choices for any given medium or long distance trip. But for all the achievements the automobile brings, I can get from my house in Pittsburgh to Philly to my friend's parent's house in the farmland of Germany without once stepping foot in a car.

What happens when that bus drives off a bridge and all the cars in the "train" follow it right over? What happens when someone falls asleep at the wheel because they no longer had to concentrate on paying attention and the car follows the bus right into the Grayhound station? Indeed, the more I think about this idea, the worse it gets. We as a society want to seem to take the thinking out of every aspect of our lives. We want to thoughtlessly get in our cars and "beam" to another location without any interaction with...well anything. SMK can't even be bothered to turn a key for christ sake!

Until you get a purely solar powered vehicle (meaning not even a plug in electric that runs on coal) will you ever make a vehicle that is more energy efficient than a train. And even then, a train would still be more energy efficient assuming it was solar.... we just wouldn't care about the fuel source running out for another couple of billion years.

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What happens when that bus drives off a bridge and all the cars in the "train" follow it right over? What happens when someone falls asleep at the wheel because they no longer had to concentrate on paying attention and the car follows the bus right into the Grayhound station? Indeed, the more I think about this idea, the worse it gets. We as a society want to seem to take the thinking out of every aspect of our lives. We want to thoughtlessly get in our cars and "beam" to another location without any interaction with...well anything. SMK can't even be bothered to turn a key for christ sake!

You don't understand how this technology works. You don't need a train, Google has a fleet of cars out there right now driving around entirely on their own. And if you want to maximize energy efficiency you would destroy all power plants.

Also, it's quite ironic to criticize driverless cars because they let you do something else while you travel, but then loudly trumpet the advantages of rail travel because you can sleep on the move.

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Also, it's quite ironic to criticize driverless cars because they let you do something else while you travel, but then loudly trumpet the advantages of rail travel because you can sleep on the move.

uh, no. On a train, I never have to be alert enough to suddenly need to pilot a 3,000 lb piece of machinery.

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Actually I like the idea because it will keep the Corolla driver fiddling with his iPod from sideswiping me on the parkway. But as a medium to long distance transit solution, it's one of the worst ideas I've seen around. It's one of most costly per passenger mile (regardless of who is paying). I think even your beloved Megabus is a substantially better idea for intercity travel... and you know my feelings on that one already.

The problem I have with this is that for long distance, traveling en mass is much more cost effective.

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As much as I like an efficient transit system, in regions like Southern California where size makes that an economic impossibility, I'm down for providing speedier alternatives for those who can afford it. Face it, there are people who prefer commuting in a personal vehicle over transit - even if it means idling in traffic - because it's comfortable, air conditioned, spacious, isolated, and quiet. You don't have to interact with others, you don't have to make plans in advance, you feel safe, you can ignore people of different socioeconomic backgrounds, and you can carry more stuff. If these self-driving cars can act like clockwork, I'm down. It means less congestion, more efficient traffic flow, and fewer accidents.

There's little joy in the daily cross-town commute, and I'd rather do something more productive in this situation - even if it's just gawking around at the cityscape... you miss so much around you when you're focusing only on other cars. Now, if I were on an empty mountain road, that would be a different story.

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If I donate $10, can I rank CSpec's posts down below the threshold point of -10? Seems like a fair trade off to me.

We've been through this and said this before: This is a computer-based system. Computers can crash. A car can crash. Two wrongs don't make a right. They just about never do, you know? That should be common sense, but it's lost on some people.

So, where's the payoff?

... Yeah, there isn't one here. The roads won't be any safer. These "road trains" will have to be 100 percent fail proof to work and that simply won't happen with a computer-operated system. Ever. Like Olds basically stated in one his earlier posts, as soon as one cog breaks down, what's to say the whole machine won't break down, following suit? The consequences could be even more dire. I don't think we've had a 300 car pile up on a major freeway in human history before and I would rather not see that one world record set because Joe Schmuck forgot to pump a fat Jackson into his tank.

If you want to comb your hair, do it at home.

If you want to brush your teeth, do it at home at your bathroom sink or in the shower.

If you want to put on a shirt, do it at home.

If you want to play with yourself, do it at home.

Do not do anything I listed above or anything else along those lines in 5 o'clock rush hour traffic or while plowing down the Interstate at 85 mph.

Face facts and quit whining. Don't tell me you need to "increase your productivity" as you drive because your stupid ass couldn't go to bed early enough to wake up at a reasonable time to start your day. Don't bitch to me that you're "not a morning person."

I can't help the fact you have a paying 9 to 5 job, a family, a mortgage, a few bills, and hate your life. Seek counciling.

If you don't like that way -- the LOGICAL WAY -- of doing things where you do stuff like dressing yourself, reading or whatever else at home, then sell your damn car, don't drive yourself anywhere, and take a frigging bus or call a damn cab immediately and indefinitely.

And by the way, you still won't be doing the crap you should have done before you left home if you do take mass transit.

Increased productivity as the sole reason as to why you have to have this farce of a technology forced upon us? Yeah, right. Keep that BS in the bullpen, thanks. If you're the kind of guy who just has to Twitter about his stupid, goddamn day while driving home from work, I hope your life is a living hell until the day you retire. Yeah, I might be harsh, but I can't tolerate such stupidity like this.

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You don't understand how this technology works. You don't need a train, Google has a fleet of cars out there right now driving around entirely on their own. And if you want to maximize energy efficiency you would destroy all power plants.

In terms of moved weight per unit of fuel used, trains are far beyond automobiles in efficiency. What's this point you're alluding to regarding destroying power plants?

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We do, and intermodel is incredibly energy efficient, however, it is not always the most time efficient.

I'm thinking of shipments that are much more time sensitive than intermodal can handle. Think Fedex, UPS, DHL, which do use rail for ground shipments, but for 2-day and faster is reliant on trucks and planes.

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Perhaps, but we have both major FED EX and UPS hubs right near where I live...

You are sending separate trucks separate directions...

Company I hold the electrical licence for services the conveyors at a Fed Ex hub...very rare even two trucks are going anywhere near the same place.

I kinda see where you are going, but to me too much cost, too much complexity, too little reward.

Upgrade intermodal first.

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This new system doesn't have the restriction you are implying. It doesn't have to be all fedex trucks, it just has to be a bunch of trucks heading in the same direction, and there's no reason that a truck couldn't join the train until it needed to break off at an interchange and join another one.

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We've been through this and said this before: This is a computer-based system. Computers can crash. A car can crash. Two wrongs don't make a right. They just about never do, you know? That should be common sense, but it's lost on some people.

... Yeah, there isn't one here. The roads won't be any safer. These "road trains" will have to be 100 percent fail proof to work and that simply won't happen with a computer-operated system. Ever.

I'm not addressing "two wrongs don't make a right" part because I don't think the automated cars are implementing vigilantism. Something you can't say about humans driving.

As far as computers can crash... yeah, they can... but properly designed, they can operate regardless of failures. I work in the world of high availability and business continuity... and have worked with public communication systems and air traffic systems that CAN'T crash. Its all a matter of redundancy and the ability to catch failures. When your check engine light comes on... the car doesn't automatically stop in the middle of the road. It doesn't run the engine/tranny in a way to damage it further. It limits the damage and limps home. Sure, not everything in the car is redundant... but it could be made so IF the risk of failure was greater than the cost of extra hardware and software to implement it.

Obviously, lawyers are not going to allow automated cars to roam the US if the manufacturers are in a position of liability for a risky system. Does it need to be 100% fail proof? No... nothing is... not even the computers keeping your airplanes in the sky. But you CAN make systems that are 99.999% fail proof... and then you make standby systems for that final gap... that's when the dash board lights up in red explaining that you have 30 second to resume manual control or else the car is going to park itself on the shoulder and call AAA.

I would be more concerned with automated cars getting confused in the real world, rather than outright failure... but they've come a long way since the DARPA competitions... and in the long term, they will outperform the average, underqualified drivers out there. If humans were infallible, we've have no accidents now.

Luckily, as far as automated car-trains go, automation on the freeways is pretty much the most unconfusing driving there is out there.

Like Olds basically stated in one his earlier posts, as soon as one cog breaks down, what's to say the whole machine won't break down, following suit? The consequences could be even more dire. I don't think we've had a 300 car pile up on a major freeway in human history before and I would rather not see that one world record set because Joe Schmuck forgot to pump a fat Jackson into his tank.

Finland apparently has had a 300 car pile up. And humans controlling cars have created plenty of 70+ pile ups all over the world.

Pile-ups are an interesting phenomenon... and they seem to happen because people will merrily blast down the freeway, ignoring required stopping distances, regardless of distraction, visibility or road conditions. Go watch a few pile ups forming on YouTube... its a combination of people panic stopping short and other people crashing into them while barely touching the brakes.

When I drive, I don't watch the guy in front of me... I watch him, the guy he's watching and the guy he's watching's watching. And I watch the guy behind me like a hawk. If the guy three cars in front of me starts to break hard, I'm on the brakes already... and I stop right on the bumper of the guy in front of me... because stopping short is going to get me hit by the folks behind me dreaming of watching Dancing With The Stars.

The networking ability of these automated cars is going to be listening all the time, probably on multiple radio frequencies. Notification of a major stopping event is going to propagate through the traffic virtually instantaneously... and _IF_ a few cars don't get the message, it still has multiple transmission paths or messages depending on traffic density of the trains of cars.

Keep in mind, I don't advocate the automation of the roads, only the freedom of resisting it. Its going to happen. Unlike some, I'm not afraid of it.

If you think running out of gas or a blown tire is going to cause a pile up, you're selling the technology WAY short, and you have WAY too much faith in the average poor driver that turns running out of gas or a blown tire into a upside-down-in-a-ditch-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-median adventure.

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