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.
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.
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.
Vehicle-to-vehicle technology is about to get its first major real-world test in the U.S. The Department of Transportation awarded $14.9 million to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute last month, and the university is already moving forward with a plan to put 3,000 short-range radio equipped cars on the road in Ann Arbor over the next couple of years.
Google's self-driving cars have apparently had their first fender-bender — and it was a person's fault, the company says.
The car blog Jalopnik posted the above photo of one of Google's self-driving cars, which they identified by the rack on the roof that resembles a smaller version of the Street View setup. It appears to have rear-ended another Prius, to the obvious dismay of the people gathered around it.
Someday, our cars will all be connected to each other, sharing traffic information, connecting us into “road trains,” and swapping position info so that collisions become a thing of the un-wired past. But even if new cars came equipped with such networking tools tomorrow--and they won’t--it would be decades before every car on the road was wired into the system.
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.
Google's self-driving car project is ambitious at heart--working with DARPA, Google is aiming to cut the number of traffic-related fatalities by as much as half, saving fuel along the way. But the badassery of the project has been kept largely under wraps until now: This video comes from a demonstration at a TED conference, and we can see that Google's robot drivers have the cold, steel heart of a rally driver.
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.