Cars in Europe may soon become very much more robotic whether drivers want them to or not. New rules coming down from the European Commission will require all commercial vehicles to be fitted with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) technology by November 2013, and passenger vehicles could soon follow suit.
Before cars start driving themselves completely, they’ll most likely start helping humans behave better on the road, politely ignoring instructions to run a red light or noticing traffic cones or other obstacles a driver might not see. A new system developed at MIT could help cars have our backs, letting them serve as semi-autonomous co-pilots.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have figured out how to thwart the weather when you’re behind the wheel by looking straight through the rain drops or snow that create that white-out effect when headlights meet heavy precipitation at night.
The applicant had to drive flawlessly on highways, through neighborhoods, and on the Strip, while Department of Motor Vehicles officials rode along sternly monitoring its skill. When it passed the test, it became the first autonomous vehicle officially licensed to drive on the nation's roads with no human intervention.
Though driverless cars are making plenty of inroads, it may be awhile yet before people are willing to hand over the keys and let their cars take over entirely. But a few autonomous functions may make the transition smoother. Cadillac is testing lane-detection and automatic braking technology for use on highways, according to General Motors.
Future self-driving cars could make traffic smoother and safer, among plenty of other potential benefits, but one thing you don’t hear much about — and should — is their utility for people with physical limitations. For example, Steve Mahan, who has lost 95 percent of his vision. He becomes Google Autonomous Car Driver #1 in the video past the jump.
Without a doubt, the best part of an auto show is the test drive — you can sink into the cushiony driver’s seat, behold the beautiful control panel, feel the steering wheel slip comfortably between your fingers. At this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, that won’t happen. Test drivers will sit in the back seat of an autonomous Prius, letting the car drive them around by itself. It’ll probably be worth the back seat view.
Automakers are doing all sorts of things to cars to make them smarter and more autonomous, as regular readers are aware. Here’s a new one: GM wants to take self-parking cars to a new level, letting them drop off their drivers and go off in search of empty spaces on their own. It’ll be more fuel-efficient than having humans circle the block waiting for a spot to open up, GM says.
Cars are already capable of driving and parking themselves while avoiding obstacles, but to do so, they need to see their surroundings. How do you know whether you’re maintaining a safe distance from vehicles around you when it’s dark outside, or when headlights can’t penetrate the fog? A new class of small, sensitive optical sensors could help.
About a month ago, we reported that Nevada (with a healthy dose of lobbying by Google) was considering legislation that would effectively legalize self-driving cars in that state. Today, Assembly Bill No. 511 passed, granting the Department of Transportation the authorization to draft a set of regulations and rules governing autonomous cars. Pop goes the champagne in Mountain View.
Google’s self-driving cars aren’t even close to being commercially available, but that doesn’t mean the company isn’t paving the way for their eventual rollout. Google is lobbying for legislation in Nevada that would make that state the first in which their cars could legally be driven on public roads, the NYT reports.
Technology that links a chain of semi-autonomous vehicles to a lead car has undergone its first trials at a Volvo test track in Sweden. The "road train" system, which allows cars to link into “trains” in which the lead car sets the pace and direction for the cars linked behind it, could be deployed on European roadways by the end of the decade.
When it comes to artificial intelligence Google has a head start, what with all that free data we give them every time we search for a 30 Rock clip. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the search giant is the latest enterprise to pursue a future where cars drive themselves via complex, decision-making artificial intelligence software. Over the weekend it was revealed that Google has seven test cars that have driven 1,000 miles each without any human intervention whatsoever.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.