fbpx
Connect with us

Autonomous Vehicles

When Self-Driving cars will be a reality on our roads?

Published

on

Share the post

This is Volvo’s 360c concept car, and it’s just one idea of what completely driverless cars might look like one day. That means cars without even a steering wheel that can safely navigate public roads entirely on their own. But with how much we hear about self-driving technology making its way into everyday cars, it’s hard not to wonder:

How much longer do we have to wait?

Understanding just how far we’ve come with self-driving technology can be a bit tricky, to help define how sophisticated the automated technology actually is, the Society of Automotive Engineers classifies these systems using five levels.

Level 1 is driver assistance, where the vehicle is able to control steering or braking but not both simultaneously.

Level 2 is partial automation, where the car can assist with both steering and braking simultaneously, but your attention is required on the road at all times. Both Tesla’s Autopilot and General Motors’ Super Cruise are examples of this.

Level 3 is conditional automation, where certain circumstances allow the car to handle most aspects of driving and the driver has the ability to temporarily take their eyes off the road.

Level 4 is high automation, where, in the right conditions, the car can take full control, giving the driver a chance to focus on other tasks.

Level 5 is full automation. In this hypothetical situation, the car drives you, and there isn’t even a steering wheel. So, what level are we currently at?

Most experts would agree: somewhere between Levels 2 and 3. However, one of their biggest concerns is the public’s misconception that we’re much further along.

“There’s an incredible amount of confusion in the general public around the context of self-driving. In our survey data here, about 23% of respondents believe that a self-driving vehicle is available for purchase today. And a lot of that has to do with statements by Elon Musk and others talking about the driverless capabilities and the self-driving capabilities of vehicles. These are systems that are made to assist the driver under the supervision of a driver.”

Bryan Reimer – Research Scientist, MIT

 

So, is it simply the limits of these automated systems that’s holding us back? Actually, there are a number of other factors in the way. For starters, our roads. Simply put, many roads, especially in the United States, are too much of a mess to support cars that can drive by themselves.

So, while many individuals out there are really working on the development of self-reliant automation, in essence, a robot that’s fully capable of making its own decisions in today’s infrastructure, the reality is, today’s infrastructure is not well equipped for autonomy. In essence, potholes, poor lane markings, and all the other crumbling aspects of our nation’s infrastructure aren’t going to support high-tech well.

In addition to more public roads needing signs and lane markings that self-driving cars can clearly make out, vehicles need to be wirelessly connected with that traffic infrastructure, as well as one another, in order to interact with the world around them flawlessly. Fortunately, automakers like Volvo already have technology that allows their cars to communicate with each other and alert drivers of hazards via a cloud-based network, this type of connected technology is being tested even further within driverless cars at Mcity, a 32-acre mock city and testing facility at the University of Michigan.

 

“So, what are connected vehicles? When we say “connected” at Mcity, we’re really referring not to streaming Netflix into your passenger seat so much, that’s a pretty solved problem in the industry, but in how vehicles and infrastructure can be connected together for lots of other benefits, like safety, the idea is a low-latency way for vehicles to tell other vehicles and anything else that wants to listen where they are and where they’re going.

Greg McGuire – Associate Director, Mcity

So, once traffic infrastructure and communication is handled, what else do we need to address?

Well, traffic laws. Governments have a number of important decisions to make in society’s transition to self-driving vehicles. In the beginning stages, they’ll have to define what weather conditions are appropriate for vehicles to be operating fully autonomously, this is due to the fact that many of these car systems can be disrupted by rain and snow, one industry they could look to for guidance is the airline industry, who doesn’t hesitate to cancel flights in inclement weather. They’ll also have to initially find a way for autonomous vehicles to safely navigate public roads amongst traditional cars.

A possible solution could be designated lanes, similar to the high-occupancy-vehicle lanes found on highways and bus lanes found in certain cities.

The government’s kind of leaving it up to states to decide what’s going on, just because the technology’s so new and they still don’t really understand what it’s going to look like in the end. Once the government does fully get involved, the federal government, they’re gonna have to speak to lobbyists, people that represent truck drivers and taxi commissions. And they’re gonna realize that, you know, a lot of jobs could be lost, and that’s going to be difficult. And then, also, liability. If these cars are on the roads and they’re getting into accidents, like, who is liable?

With all of these things considered, back to our original question: How soon until we have self-driving cars?

I’d say within the decade it’s gonna be on highways, but if we’re talking about being able to take your car wherever you want across the United States, being able to travel through New York City and sleep the whole time, I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that, probably several decades away from that.

Car makers and tech companies are very heavily focused on the context of driverless technologies. Now, I’m not saying that that’s not the future. It is the future, but, as many have begun to admit publicly, that future is further away than anybody’s realistically considered to date. We as humans are really good at predicting the future; we’re not so good at the timelines. And the timelines to driverless technology changing how I live and move is probably in the order of several decades, if not further away.

How close are we to the Jetson’s car? We’re still a ways away, we think it isn’t really a matter of when these technologies will arrive, to me, but can we be ready and utilize them in the best way possible

 

Thanks for reading

Join our newsletter



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Autonomous Vehicles

Volvo will use Waymo’s self-driving technology to power a fleet of electric robotaxis

Published

on

Share the post

Volvo Waymo partnership :

Volvo’s self driving efforts have been most closely related with Uber but this article will definitely make you rethink that connection. The automaker has formed an alliance that will consider waymo be the exclusive partner for level – 4 self driving for its vehicles. Waymo is the “exclusive global L4 partner” for Volvo Car Group. Volvo will merge Waymo’s autonomous driving technology,  considered to be the best in the world, into a fleet of electric robotaxis that it will dispose at some point in the future. The two companies announced Thursdayas an  exclusive partnership to integrate Waymo’s self driving software. The deal also applies to Volvo’s two subrands, its electric performance company Polestar and its Chinese brand Lynk& Co.

According to Volvo CTO Henrik Green, “Fully autonomous vehicles have the potential to improve road safety to previously unseen levels and to revolutionize the way people live, work and travel,” moreover he said, “Our global partnership with Waymo opens up new and exciting business opportunities for Volvo Cars, Polestar, and Lynk & Co.”

SAE Levels :

“L4” is a reference to the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) taxonomy for autonomous vehicles. It is commonly referred to as the SAE levels, which have become the global standard for defining self-driving. Level 4, or L4, vehicles are capable of operating without a human driver behind the wheel. But it’s only possible within a specific geographic location and under certain conditions, like good weather. Waymo has some Level 4 vehicles in operation outside of Phoenix, Arizona.

Moreover, Volvo being the fourth automaker of integrating Waymo’s AV technology in its vehicles. Also, the Alphabet subsidiary has preexisting agreements with Nissan-Renault, Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover. Volvo is planning to release a handful of EVs in the next few years, including the XC40 Recharge and the Polestar 2. Isn’t it amazing?

Volvo and Uber scrapped partnership :

Previously, Volvo had an agreement with Uber to place a fleet of self-driving taxis by 2019, but that plan was discarded after an Uber test vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, in 2017. But still the Swedish automaker has a partnership with Uber’s autonomous division, and last year, the two companies presented a jointly developed self-driving version of the Volvo XC90 SUV.

Reportedly, Waymo famously used Uber in 2017 for looting some of its self-driving technology. The two companies settled the following year. And now Uber is researching, whether it may have to come to a licensing agreement with Waymo or make design changes to its autonomous vehicle technology. Moreover by following an independent inquiry that found some of Waymo’s designs that are still beingused by Uber.

Volvo also has some amazing future plans to sell customers partially automated vehicles equipped with LIDAR sensors made by US startup Luminar. The automaker reported that its vehicles will be capable to drive themselves on highways hands-free, with no human intervention.They are also planning to start rolling off the production line in 2022. Volvo is also planning to launch an electric car every year as they are aiming at making all electric cars 50 percent of global sales by 2025.

Thanks for reading

Join our newsletter



Continue Reading

Autonomous Vehicles

What is the future of trucks?

Published

on

Share the post

The semi-truck our modern lives are completely dependent on them, look around you every object you see he probably traveled on at least one big rig, here in America truckers make up 2% of the workforce, but with multiple game-changing technologies converging simultaneously, and the relentlessness of the hyper competitive global marketplace. The industry will be revolutionized within the next two decades.

This is an examination of the future of trucking before we get into the technology that will turn it all upside down, we must first understand the way this extremely fragmented industry works now. To the numbers there are about 3 million drivers for 2.5 million trucks in the U.S. those trucks are owned by 532,000 carrier companies, but 90% of these fleets have fewer than six trucks and half of all carriers are single individuals who own, and operate their own rig, then you have the middlemen the freight brokers these 13,000 companies play matchmaker between the manufacturers and wholesalers who are trying to get their goods to market, and the retailers who make the final sale to the consumer.

Because this industry is so splintered there aren’t Universal software systems tying it all together, in fact 67% of shippers don’t use software at all, and rely solely on paper records. In 2017, this creates tremendous inefficiency, when every piece of information has to be communicated through human interactions, drivers are frequently forced to wait hours to book or pick up a load, and sometimes they just don’t, an estimated 20 percent of trucks on the road or empty. To solve these problems investors are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on startups competing to develop silver-bullet, a software layer that can be used by every segment of the industry.

Another area ripe for modernization is, how trucks are powered? Today medium and heavy-duty trucks account for 6% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced in America, to their credit companies like Walmart are looking to transition to fleets powered by cleaner natural gas, the bridge fuel America has embraced to transition to renewable, and that’s where Tesla comes in. Elon Musk CEO of the electric car manufacturer plans to unveil an electric powered semi truck in the next six months. Battery range will be the biggest obstacle to widespread adoption of electric trucks as Tesla’s pack we’ll probably only have a two to three hundred mile range, the other challenge will be having enough charging stations and enough power available at each station to support fleets of Tesla trucks.

The Nikola One attempts to overcome these limitations, this gorgeous hydrogen fuel cell truck will have a range of 1,200 miles, the young company plans to begin leasing their trucks this year (2020), for about 6,000 dollars a month, including the cost of fuel. But it will first need to build a network of about 400 charging stations throughout the country. Cutting the emissions of semi trucks is great for the environment, but the real cost saving opportunity lies in cutting out the drivers, it’s been more than a year now since six convoys of semi autonomous smart trucks arrived at the Netherlands port city of Rotterdam, after leaving factories from as far away as Sweden and southern Germany, that experiment relied on a system called Platooning, a semi-autonomous feature allowing trucks to find each other link up and draft to cut down on wind drag saving energy.

A self-driving truck completed the first commercial shipment by an autonomous vehicle delivering a load of Budweiser more than 120 miles across Colorado, a human got the truck on the highway and engaged the autonomous system, then climbed out of the driver’s seat, that truck was made by Auto Motors which was recently acquired by Uber.

And dozens of massive 240-ton trucks are already being used in Australian mines, so that’s the near future we’ll see in the next 10 years fleets of driverless trucks, some will be designed to be autonomous, while others will have the system installed later. Many will be electric and nearly all will be connected to efficient networks that are not slowed down by frequent human input.

There is some skepticism though surrounding this vision of the future, as seen in a recent panel discussion of Canadian trucking executives.

 

“I don’t think for a long time we’re going to get to a place where there won’t be a driver in the truck, somebody skilled enough to take over if the system fails, let’s lace it. We’re doing business in Canada, there’s people out there that say trucks won’t break down in the future, sorry not well, sodium chloride being put on the road every day, and eats away at wiring harnesses, and battery voltage when it’s minus 40 doesn’t keep up and you know we’re a different monster, we all have friends in California and technology works really well down there a lot different here in the great white north”.

CHRIS IVESONDirector of maintenance, Challenger

These comments capture the strong sense of denial among those in the industry. Sure, he has a point, we may not see autonomous trucks hauling Freight on Ice Road Truckers anytime soon, but counting on poor road conditions to slow down automation seems foolish. Technology and new materials will create a way to make it work, the market forces are simply too strong not too. Morgan Stanley estimates that making the american freight industry autonomous could save 170 billion dollars a year in labor fuel productivity and accident costs, crashes involving big rigs killed 39 hundred Americans in 2014 and injured another 110,000.

In the longer term if the drivers will be cut out then we no longer need the tractor unit to pull the trailers, because the trailers will be powered by their own rechargeable electric batteries, and will have their own autonomous driving systems, but let’s go beyond self-driving trailers let’s reimagine the whole system.

By combining the emerging autonomous technologies that are being used to transport goods within a factory, with the autonomous self-driving systems for long-haul transport, we can create an entirely new type of vehicle, that will begin hauling trips as soon as it receives its cargo. These freight transport vehicles can vary in size from small three by three foot cubes all the way up to traditional shipping container sized boxes, by embracing this vision of the future sooner rather than later, we can avoid wasting resources by leapfrogging the in-between stage of building new fleets of semi autonomous tractor-trailer trucks, but there’s obviously a big downside, the imminent loss of millions of jobs will be an enormous challenge and will lead to an important debate about employment in the age of automation and the idea of a guaranteed Universal income. Also if large companies dominate the automated transport industry which seems likely it will add to income inequality, the Muse’s that these changes will happen in baby steps over more than a decade, that’s plenty of time to adapt and learn new skills needed for success in another career.

Thanks for reading

Join our newsletter



Continue Reading

Autonomous Vehicles

How Do Autonomous car / Self-Driving Cars Actually Work?

Published

on

Share the post

Imagine that you’re driving in the road when all of a sudden a big SUV cuts you off there was no warning and you could have gotten into a bad accident, but you were too busy reading your newsfeed to notice, and rather than giving bad drivers a honk in a middle finger your automated car might just send a strongly worded letter of ones and zeros to the offending vehicle. It’s crazy to think about, but the future is now after years of hard work and research, we’re finally on the brink of a revolutionary new form of transportation, and with the hub as your GPS we will let weird distractions, and funky rumors throw you off course, this is how self-driving cars actually work.

SOFTWARE AND HARDWARE

Self-driving cars are equipped with state-of-the-art software to make sure they can function as best as possible without human intervention, after many years of testing the cars use top-of-the-line laser based radar systems called LIDAR.

LIDAR short for Light Detection And Ranging functions in tandem with state-of-the-art GPS, and inertial measurement unit sensors or IMU, to pinpoint the location of the car down to a quarter of an inch, an additional radar control will kick in whenever an obstacle comes within about 15 to 30 feet of the vehicle, these sensors exist to keep the car running and to keep you safe, but in order to be convenient and efficient the cars brain uses deep learning technology, to review cameras and GPS data to predict the fastest routes to your destination, with special algorithms always running between the computerized parts in and around the car’s engine. The vehicle can also calculate the probability of actions to be taken by other drivers in the chance of natural occurrences as you speed down, the road that said it’ll be a long time before fully autonomous cars are available for public, consumption and even then the human passengers will need to stay somewhat alert in case the car has sensory or technical difficulties.

COST

One of the biggest perks of this technology is that considering the service that offers, it’s not too expensive, in a standard self-driving automobile, the extra sensitive global positioning system needed for these cars, which would utilize Internal Altimeters, Gyroscopes and Tachometers for accuracy ranges between 80 to 6,000 American dollars, video cameras mounted on the roof range between a hundred and twenty-five dollars to two hundred dollars. Radar sensors on the bumpers reach a combined total of around one hundred and fifty dollars. The LIDAR device towering on top of the car, is the most expensive, at a max of eight thousand dollars, and central computers which start steer and the car can average out to three times, the sensor cost as calculated by Boston Consulting Group cars with the ability to put on autopilot mode would reach an extra five thousand five hundred dollars, more than the asking price, and $10,000 for the machinery to go entirely driverless. That may seem like a good chunk of change, but it’s pretty affordable when you think about how quickly a science-fiction vehicle like this could be at your neighbor’s fingertips.

SAFETY AND COMMUNICATION FEATURES

To make sure your boss’s Robo car, and your neighbor’s 1995 Corolla are able to share the road in perfect harmony, government agencies like the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have stepped in, they’re analyzing the data to see what roadway prep is needed for self-driving cars big debut, and with their new suggestions and regulations, certain futuristic features may already be included on the cars in your driveway. Nowadays many new models include rear mounted backup cameras, and as of May 1st 2018 this is a required feature by the NHTSA.

According to the administration they believe this development will annually save 69 additional lives. Forward collision avoidance is another requirement, and whether you’ve noticed it or not it’s been in several different makes and models since 2003, this helpful feature applies extra pressure to the brakes when the car is approaching an obstacle at too great a speed.

There’s still an even bigger computerized factor in our daily commutes, and that’s Lane detection. Some cars currently on the road have computerised autopilot on standby, it kicks in when the human driver isn’t moving fast enough, and the cars need to swerve into a new lane, and researchers believe that the next level in road safety weather cars are fully driverless or not, relies on a type of vehicle to vehicle communication, this way cars regardless of where they are made would have some Universal set of signals that could be transmitted to avoid accidents and keep the commuters safe.

CAR COMPANIES

But, who’s involved in making all this happen? Well everybody. Once upon a time our nation was facing off against the Soviet Union in a bitter space race, now Silicon Valley is teaming up with car companies in a competition, to come up the most bankable self-driving car. It’s what you call a race race.

Tesla has made great strides in this area. Google Toyota Honda and Nissan think they’ll be road ready by end of 2020. With Google’s prototypes already having logged 1.8 million miles as of July 2016. now known as Waymo Google’s self-driving car project, unleashed a fleet of a hundred modified Chrysler minivans with empty driver’s seat throughout the streets of Phoenix Arizona. Volvo on the other hand, not only expects to have driverless cars on the market by 2020, they go so far as to say their version will be death Proof a whopping 81% of car accidents are caused by human error alone, but the Swedish car manufacturer expects their cars to reach a full hundred percent accident survival rate, thanks to their hard work manufacturing materials and steep testing regulations. Volvo is known for their high safety standards but their XC90 model is a precursor to the upcoming fully driverless models, and that cars key components are going to be expanded upon going forward, first it has an ultra-thin steel frame that’s five times more powerful than a limit of this along, with the new placement of the cars engine gives the car stronger support, and a lower center of gravity to protect the passengers, when paired with smart self-driving technology that can stay on the right side of the roads, without lanes and steer along treacherous dirt paths Volvo might be the brand to beat.

TAXIS AND TRUCKS

It takes years and years of development, but businesses are expecting a huge payoff cheaper labor costs, and cheaper goods for consumers, something factoring into these profits however, is that a truck drivers pay tends to account for a third of transportation costs, what’s good for the companies may be bad for the people who need the work.

In Logan the most recent Wolverine movie set in 2029 robot trucks speed down freeways without tractors, the only part needed is the trailer, it’s more of an additional detail to communicate the time period to the audience rather than a part of the plot, since the future in Logan is a pretty bleak place we can assume the filmmakers are using this as one other oddly familiar yet creepily different element of a not-too-distant time ahead, like the other companies mentioned earlier Dame ler which manufactures mercedes-benz expects robot controlled big rigs to start traveling across the highway starting in 2020. With these changes in store they’ll need to be a new set of jobs for the drivers replaced by machines. Taxi drivers might also be replaced as companies like Uber and LYFT hop on board. Uber paired with Volvo in the Carnegie Mellon University robotics department, to test vehicles do the streets of Pittsburgh in 2016. On the other side of the U.S. LYFT teamed up with DRI a I in San Francisco to test its latest vehicles with human passengers and see just how the time of day and weather can mess with the cars fussy sensory equipment.

 PROS AND CONS

The auto industry has been moving in this direction for a long time, but it’s still a controversial idea of the positives the most important is the increase in road safety and the easing of drivers daily commutes. Since vehicles would no longer need to rely on human operation, they could likely move at faster speeds avoiding traffic and simplifying parking.

Although the general shapes of the cars we know and love might eventually change into a form that’s totally unrecognizable, we’d be trading the look of cars for much more comfortable road trips, imagine how boring a movie like national lampoon’s vacation would be if the family was able to take their living room shape talking car, there’d be no drama but at least everyday people would be able to get from point A to point B without honking the horn or yelling at the congestion. In terms of health care experts argue that the decrease in accidents would cause rising medical costs to shrink.

According to the US Department of Transportation every human on the road has the same value, 9.2 million dollars it’s always a little cold to reduce life to a number, yet multiply that by the amount of people injured or worse in accidents each year and you’ll see the physical and financial toll that accidents can cost the country each year, on a more positive note disabled individuals and the elderly often need to use trains or buses to travel from place to place, with a car at their disposal, they’d be given much more time and freedom to go where they want to go and do what they want to do plus a chain reaction of cause and effect would free up law enforcement with humans no longer a hundred percent responsible for driving speeding and DUI charges would go down, then the police could spend more time focusing on matters impacting the community, and two other issues would be dealt with involving the DMV and insurance companies. With less drivers on the road that means less of a line at the Department of Motor Vehicles and less of a need for car insurance as the website Auto.Loan proposes car insurance may become extinct since eventually the computer will be making all the decisions, perhaps the premium will be paid by the car manufacturer instead of the driver.

For each Pro here are some of the more shady cons to be worried about, some experts warn that with the increased energy needed to power the additional devices on board increased fuel emissions could lead to more pollution, outside of the smog effect and the larger price tag governments transportation departments need to come up with new regulations and licensing to make sure there’s an international standard for these cars, and that doesn’t even account for the simple tactical concern that impacts all of our computers, tablets, and cell phones. What if our car gets a virus if someone hacks into the new Ford Update could they mess with the GPS? Could they control the direction in which as cars traveling? Could they track someone’s location in real time? Those prospects can seem pretty scary. There’s a lot we don’t know when looking ahead yet, we learned from the Terminator franchise that the future is not set, there’s no fate but, what we make for ourselves as with all the other advances of this crazy modern social metropolitan world we’re living in, will unfortunately need to wait to see whether the good outweighs.

The bad financial experts at Forbes say that the safety benefits of computerized cars can give six hundred and forty two billion dollars per year back to the US economy alone, despite the unknowns self-driving cars just might actually work to solve our problems, but we won’t know for sure until we actually see them all in action.

Continue Reading

Trending

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!