Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Dr. AMK, Feb 2, 2018.
My Arm vs the Fire Syringe—What Happens When You Crush Air Really Fast?
How Stephen Hawking Helped to Drive Innovation in Communication Technology
The famed physicist worked with Intel to develop the communication system that enabled him to express his thoughts.
Professor Stephen Hawking, who passed away in March aged 76, was in many ways a technological pioneer. Despite being given just years to live when he was diagnosed with the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 21, the renowned British physicist went on to thrive for more than five decades, becoming one of the most influential thinkers of our time.
“Few people transcend their fields the way Professor Hawking did during his lifetime and he will be sorely missed”
Known for his groundbreaking theories on the Big Bang and black holes, along with his best-selling popular science book “A Brief History of Time”, Hawking was able to communicate complex subjects to the masses despite losing the power of speech, communicating via a computer system since the 1980s. The scientist, who was also Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, was well known for his tenacity, sense of humour and love of sci-fi, and welcomed innovations in communication technology that allowed him to continue his work.
Spoiler: Read More:
After meeting Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1997, a long-time collaboration was formed. In 2014, Intel created a new tailored communication platform for Hawking called ACAT (Assistive Context Aware Toolkit) to replace his old system. The legendary physicist was instrumental in the design process of the new platform which enabled him to type twice as fast as before. Hawking was able to select characters by moving his cheek muscle, with the movements detected by an infrared sensor on his glasses. Not only did this enable him to communicate via his speech synthesisers, it also allowed him to use his computer for browsing the web, writing lectures and even making Skype* calls, with those that knew him well able to read his facial expressions.
“Medicine has not been able to cure me, so I rely on technology to help me communicate and live,” said Hawking, speaking about his new communication system in 2014. “Intel has been supporting me for almost 20 years, allowing me to do what I love every day. The development of this system has the potential to improve the lives of disabled people around the world and is leading the way in terms of human interaction and the ability to overcome communication boundaries that once stood in the way.”
And while Hawking’s distinctive digitally generated voice is IP-protected, Intel made the ACAT communication software open source so that researchers around the world can use it for free and customise it to suit different users with varying levels of physical ability.
“Working with Stephen was the most meaningful and challenging endeavor of my life,” said Lama Nachman, Intel Fellow, who led the team that worked on Hawking’s computer interface. “It fed my soul and really hit home how technology can profoundly improve people’s lives. We will continue developing and refining this technology in the open source community in his honor, to reach all people in need. This is something he cared about deeply”.
Hawking was a keen believer in open access enabling innovation and in 2017 his trailblazing doctoral thesis, ‘Properties of Expanding Universes’ from 1966 was made available for anyone to read online. As of March 2018, it had been accessed nearly a million times1. Hawking hoped making the paper – a complex read on the origins of the universe – freely available would inspire future generations. The university hopes that the move may encourage other former Cambridge academics to make their research available for everyone, effectively eliminating the barrier between people and knowledge, to encourage technological innovation and scientific breakthroughs.
“Anyone, anywhere in the world should have free, unhindered access to not just my research, but to the research of every great and enquiring mind across the spectrum of human understanding,” said Hawking in a statement last year.
As well as his influential work on theoretical physics, which has helped to further our understanding of the universe, Hawking’s legacy is also marked by his drive and openness to innovation which resulted in a game-changing open source communication system that will help countless others with limited mobility.
In an official statement, Intel described Hawking as “an expansive thinker who inspired us all,” adding, “Intel is honored to have worked with him over the years and we are saddened by this news. Few people transcend their fields the way Professor Hawking did during his lifetime and he will be sorely missed.”
Augmented-reality system lets doctors see medical images projected on patients’ skin
April 23, 2018
New technology is bringing the power of augmented reality into clinical practice. The system, called ProjectDR, shows clinicians 3D medical images such as CT scans and MRI data, projected directly on a patient’s skin. The technology uses motion capture, similar to how it’s done in movies. Infrared cameras track invisible (to human vision) markers on … more…
China’s Plan to Lead the World in AI
Published on Apr 18, 2018
China is investing heavily in artificial intelligence. And what worse candidate for leader of the AI revolution is there than the Chinese Communist Party?
The Amazing Ways Infervision Uses AI To Detect Strokes
Infervision is working on ground-breaking work to diagnose and treat strokes with the help of machine learning algorithms. The AI medical image specialists has already completed successful pilots of its Head CT Augmented Screening platform. It is hoped that the technology will soon go into widespread use and save lives, by allowing doctors to more quickly and accurately diagnose strokes and assess the damage they have caused.
Spoiler: Read More:
It is the second medical technology based around machine learning which Infervision have reported success with – I previously wrote about their platform which detects early signs of lung cancer in X-ray and CT scans.
Over 100,000 annotated medical image scans were used to train the algorithms, which given more live data will become increasingly efficient at diagnosing the two main types of stroke, hemorrhagic and ischemic.
Infervision founder and CEO Chen Kuan told me “X-ray is a very old type of medical check-up – in China, for example, no one had mentioned chest X-ray in academic conferences for more than 15 years. Until very recently with the arrival of AI. AI has helped radiologists discover problems they previously weren’t able to see. So we are very proud to see radiologists starting to discuss some very interesting and fantastic cases involving AI.”
It’s certainly a fantastic example of the ways new technology can unlock value from data which has been around for a long time.
One of the major problems it solves is how to measure the volume of blood lost in hemorrhagic (bleeding) strokes. When every second is critical following a stroke, doctors generally use a simple mathematical formula to “guesstimate” as best as possible how much blood is lost.
Research shows the more accurately this volume is assessed, the more likelihood a patient has of recovery, due to how it affects treatment.
“Haemorrhage volume is strongly associated with mortality and the best way to intervene”, explains Kuan.
“Volumes over 30ml are strongly associated with mortality and its better to use aggressive surgical methods to intervene. The problem is, during our testing phase we asked radiologists to conduct these calculations and we found that in some cases the margin of error was more than 30ml.”
Not only is it hoped that the algorithms will “learn” to become more accurate than human radiologists at these assessments, they will be able to carry them out far more quickly in reaction to an emergency.
Another advantage is that diagnoses can be made from X-ray and CT scans, rather than MRI scans alone, which are currently the only way to diagnose ischemic (blood clot) strokes. MRI machines are less available, and many hospitals do not have the resources to run them 24-hours a day.
I asked Kuan how radiologists and other clinical staff had reacted when faced with technology which on the face of it seemed aimed at making some of their skills redundant.
“They are very excited”, he told me – “Two or three weeks ago there was a congress of Chinese radiologists and there was a lot of excitement about what we can do. They realise that we are helping them with the diagnosis but also helping with treatment plans for patients too.”
In fact, the results of Infervision’s trial in China will also be announced this week at the Radiological Society of North America annual conference in Chicago where Kuan is hoping for an equally enthusiastic response. He also hopes that far more people will have the opportunity to benefit from the technology soon.
“We’ve expanded it to four hospitals in China at this point and the initial results are promising, so soon we will be expanding to more hospitals and hopefully into the US as well.”
Uber’s self-driving car saw the pedestrian but didn’t swerve – report
Tuning of car’s software to avoid false positives blamed, as US National Transportation Safety Board investigation continues
Samuel Gibbs, Tue 8 May 2018 06.00 EDT
Uber’s modified Volvo XC90 SUV detected but did not react to the crossing pedestrian in first self-driving car fatality, report says. Photograph: Volvo
"An Uber self-driving test car which killed a woman crossing the street detected her but decided not to react immediately, a report has said.
The car was travelling at 40mph (64km/h) in self-driving mode when it collided with 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg at about 10pm on 18 March. Herzberg was pushing a bicycle across the road outside of a crossing. She later died from her injuries.
Although the car’s sensors detected Herzberg, its software which decides how it should react was tuned too far in favour of ignoring objects in its path which might be “false positives” (such as plastic bags), according to a report from the Information. This meant the modified Volvo XC90 did not react fast enough.
The report also said the human safety driver was not paying close enough attention to intervene before the vehicle struck the pedestrian.
Arizona suspended Uber’s self-driving vehicle testing after the incident. The companylater settled with Herzberg’s family.
Uber and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the incident. Uber has already reached its preliminary conclusion, according to the report. A comprehensive NTSB report is expected later.
“We’re actively cooperating with the NTSB in their investigation. Out of respect for that process and the trust we’ve built with NTSB, we can’t comment on the specifics of the incident,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. “In the meantime, we have initiated a top-to-bottom safety review of our self-driving vehicles programme, and we have brought on former NTSB chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture. Our review is looking at everything from the safety of our system to our training processes for vehicle operators, and we hope to have more to say soon.”
The collision marked the first fatality attributed to a self-driving car, the development of which has frequently been labelled as the only way to eliminate road deaths for those inside and outside the car.
The incident was not the first controversy to involve Uber’s self-driving efforts, which the company sees as key to its survival as a ride-sharing or taxi firm. The company has been involved in a long-running battle with former Google self-driving car outfit Waymo over theft of technology around Anthony Levandowski.
Uber’s self-driving technology was also called 5,000 times worse than Waymo’s in an independent analysis in 2017, while it has had legal tussles with various US states where it has tried to test vehicles."
Coca-Cola's Corporate Takeover Of Mexico
Published on May 9, 2018
The Coca-Cola Effect: The town of San Cristobal is suffering a man-made drought, as Coca-Cola and other soft drink multinationals are draining all water sources.
It takes 6 litres of water to make just one litre of Coca-Cola - and in the town of San Cristobal and the surrounding villages, a drought has been imposed by the local soft drink factories, as they are authorised to extract 500 million litres of groundwater each year. The result is that Coca-Cola has now replaced water as the default source of hydration for the residents of San Cristobal. Offered at reduced prices and widely available, the locals are starting to suffer serious consequences to their health as a result.
Driverless cars: Intel's Mobileye tests self-driving car tech in Jerusalem
The chip maker also secured a deal to supply eight million cars with its autonomous driving tech
By Bobby Hellard, IT Pro, 18 May, 2018
"Autonomous cars have been a staple of science fiction for years, appearing in films like I, Robot, Demolition Man and Minority Report. Thanks to the brightest minds in Silicon Valley, however, they're rapidly becoming science fact.
Google is nearing the final stages of testing for its autonomous car programme, Tesla drivers can enjoy an 'Autopilot' feature for hassle-free motorway driving, and Pittsburgh residents can hail an Uber that drives itself.
But how do driverless cars work? Are they safe? When can we expect to try one out for ourselves? We answer all these questions, and more, below.
Spoiler: Lots a news...
18/05/2018: Intel's Mobileye tests self-driving car tech in Jerusalem
Intel's Mobileye division has started testing self-driving cars in Jerusalem, a city supposedly know for its challenging driving conditions.
While Mobileye is based in Jerusalem, so testing in its home city is sensibly convenient, the city also throws Intel's driverless car technology into the deep end.
"Jerusalem is notorious for aggressive driving. There aren’t perfectly marked roads. And there are complicated merges. People don’t always use crosswalks. You can’t have an autonomous car traveling at an overly cautious speed, congesting traffic or potentially causing an accident. You must drive assertively and make quick decisions like a local driver," explained Professor Amnon Shashua, chief executive at Mobileye.
This testing will put Intel's camera-only sensors setup to the test, as it tries to create a driverless car system that uses 12 cameras around a car rather than tap into Lidar and GPS systems. The idea is to create a system with "true redundancy", where each sensors system is capable of piloting a car on its own, which Intel noted is a faster wait to validate a car's self-driving perception system as well as create autonomous cars capable of still operating if one sensor system fails.
Intel's driverless car tech is also set to spread further afield as Mobileye secured a deal with a European car maker to put its self-driving technology into eight million cars, reported Reuters.
While the car maker was not named, Intel's deal will see it provide Level 3 driverless car technology, whereby a car can pilot itself autonomously but needs a human driver to be behind the wheel and paying attention to the road ahead. Mobieye already works with a swathe of car makers, including General Motors, Nissan, Audi and BMW to supply them with Level 3 autonomous driving technology.
17/05/2018: Tesla confirms Autopilot crash amid mounting safety concerns
The driver of a Tesla car that crashed into a firetruck in Utah last week had enabled its Autopilot feature, the company has confirmed.
The Model S collided with a stationary vehicle in its path on 11 May after the driver turned on both the 'autosteer' and 'cruise control' features 80 seconds prior to the accident, Tesla told police.
The driver, who suffered a broken ankle in the crash, had taken her hands off the wheel to check her phone, according to Tesla, and reported on by the Guardian, and has received a traffic citation for "failure to keep [a] proper lookout", police said.
Tesla said there were more than a dozen instances where the driver had taken her hands off the wheel for more than a minute.
It added that the driver's use of Autopilot was "contrary to proper use" because she "did not pay attention to the road at all".
Tesla's manual warns its drivers that the automatic emergency braking is not a substitute for maintaining a safe distance from cars in front of them.
"Drivers are repeatedly advised Autopilot features do not make Tesla vehicles 'autonomous' and that the driver absolutely must remain vigilant with their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and they must be prepared to take any and all action necessary to avoid hazards on the road," the company wrote.
The confirmation came out the same day that the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it was sending a team to investigate the crash.
Earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to rebuff claims from the Wall Street Journal that his company considered adding eye tracking and steering-wheel sensors to its Autopilot system but opted not to over financial reasons.
"This is false. Eyetracking rejected for being ineffective, not for cost. WSJ fails to mention that Tesla is the safest car on the road, which would make article ridiculous. Approx 4X better than avg," he tweeted.
10/04/2018: Uber to resume self-driving car tests in a few months according to CEO
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that the company would resume testing its self-driving cars in a few months after suspending the tests following the fatal accident in March.
Speaking from the stage of Uber's second annual Elevate conference in Los Angeles, Khosrowshahi said the tests could resume in the next few months, but would not provide any details before the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) finish its investigation into the accident.
Elaine Herzberg was killed when she was hit by one of Uber's self-driving cars in Tempe, Arizona in March. It's reported that the accident was caused by a software issue that caused the vehicle to detect but ignore her as she crossed the road.
Khosrowshahi said that the company wouldn't tweet any information before the NTSB publish its findings and said the company would not put innovation above safety.
"Are we doing the right thing, are we pushing too hard, and is it coming at the cost of safety, and if it is then you have to take a step back. We will win because of the talent of the technical people we have in our offices," he said.
Khosrowshahi briefly spoke about the company's self-driving car tests at its annual Elevate vent where it laid out detailed plans to launch a flying taxi service by 2023.
Announcing partnerships with Nasa and the US aeronautics agency, Uber hopes to fill the skies with thousands of short-range electric aircraft and mass produce them to the extent that the cost of aerial commuting would come down to the level of its land-based carpooling service.
Eric Allison recently left air taxi startup Kitty Hawk to join Uber as head of aviation programmes and spoke at the event detailing the task the company has taken on.
"To make this happen we have to do something that is basically completely unprecedented: a real-time network of aerial vehicles that all operate together at a massive scale," he said.
Khosrowshahi was interviewed at the end of the event and spoke of the need to look at urban congestion in another way and said that taking to the skies is the best way.
"We have to solve this transportation problem in more than just two dimensions, we need this third dimension," Khosrowshahi added.
08/04/2018: Uber car 'detected but ignored' woman that it hit
The Uber self-driving car involved in the test that resulted in the death of a 49-year-old woman saw but ignored her, according to a report in The Information.
Elainze Herzberg died on 18 March after the vehicle collided with her at 40mph as she pushed her bike across the road in front of the car outside of a crossing in Tempe, Arizona.
Sensors in the modified Volvo XC90 are tuned to differentiate between large, obtrusive objects, such as other cars and people, and smaller objects labelled 'false positives' that do not require the car to stop, like plastic bags.
Although it detected Herzberg, the car's software was tuned in favour of ignoring these so-called false positives and did not stop or swerve as she crossed the road, The Information reported. A human safety driver did not react in time.
Uber has already reached its preliminary conclusion and is working with the US National Transport Safety Board (NTSB), which will publish a full report later in the year.
"We're actively cooperating with the NTSB in their investigation. Out of respect for that process and the trust we have built with NTSB, we can't comment on the specifics of the incident," an Uber spokesperson told IT Pro.
"In the meantime, we have initiated a top-to-bottom safety review of our self-driving vehicles programme, and we have brought on former NTSB chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture. Our review is looking at everything from the safety of our system to our training process for the vehicle operators, and we hope to have more to say soon."
30/04/2018: Driver banned after moving to passenger seat with Tesa on Autopilot
A 39-year-old man has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving after another driver filmed him on the M1 in the passenger seat of his Tesla S 60.
The video, taken in May 2017 by a passenger in another vehicle, shows Bhavesh Patel in the passenger seat with his arms behind his head, allowing the car to run in Autopilot mode on a busy road going at around 40mph, despite the manual warning owners to be prepared to take over at all times.
The clip went viral on social media before being reported to police, who interviewed Patel, of Alfreton Road in Nottingham, at Stevenage Police Station. There he told officers his actions were "silly" but that the car had "amazing" capabilities and he was "the unlucky one who got caught".
A Tesla engineer told police that the Autopilot mode is not designed to make the car driverless, and the car's features are only meant to assist a "fully-attentive driver" with acceleration, deceleration and steering, and should not be the sole form of navigation.
Patel was handed an 18-month driving ban, 100 hours unpaid community work, ordered to undergo 10 days "rehabilitation" and must pay £1,800 in costs to the Crown Prosecution Service.
"This case should serve as an example to all drivers who have access to autopilot controls and have thought about attempting something similar," said investigating officer PC Kirk Caldicutt. "I want to stress that they are in no way a substitute for a competent motorist in the driving seat who can react appropriately to the road ahead."
This message mirrors warnings from Tesla following several deaths in automated cars in the US. Tesla has warned that the cruise control is programmed to stay within painted lane lines and doesn't recognise stationary objects. After the first death in 2016, caused by a collision with a parked truck, Tesla reduced the time limit a driver can go without touching the wheel.
Despite cases of misuse, a US Department of Transportation study in 2017 reported that Autopilot on Tesla reduces the risk of crash by 40%.
"There are about 1.25 million automotive deaths worldwide," a Tesla spokesperson said in March of this year after the second driverless car death. "If the current safety level of a Tesla vehicle were to be applied, it would mean about 900,000 lives saved per year."
19/04/2018: California investigates workplace safety at Tesla
California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has opened an investigation into workplace safety at Tesla's Fremont factory.
The decision to investigate the electric car manufacturer comes after claims that Tesla put speed and style over workplace safety to the extent that the company's lack of coloured warning signs were down to CEO Elon Musk hating the colour yellow.
Other claims in the article, by Reveal, suggest Tesla under-reported workplace injuries.
Tesla dismissed the report in a blog posted shortly after and called the article an "ideologically motivated attack" and referred to the website as an "extremist organization".
"In our view, what they portray as investigative journalism is in fact an ideologically motivated attack by an extremist organization working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign against Tesla."
But a spokeswoman for Cal/OSHA said it "takes seriously reports of workplace hazards and allegations of employers’ underreporting recordable work-related injuries and illnesses".
It has been a bruising week for Musk, who had to go on a PR offensive to dispel wide reports that his company placed unreasonable demands on staff and caused production to halt due to over-automation of factory jobs.
It had been reported that a three to five day break in production was due to failing to produce enough cars per week, but a statement from a company spokesmen claimed that it was a planned pause.
"Our Model 3 production plan includes periods of planned downtime in both Fremont and Gigafactory," a spokesperson said.
"These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates. This is not unusual and is in fact common in production ramps like this."
However, a leaked email from Musk, listing a set of demands of his employees to "burn the midnight oil" and demonstrate the ability to produce 6,000 Model 3 cars per week by the end of June, brought more scrutiny on Tesla.
18/04/2018: Musk emails rallying call to Tesla staff
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has called on his staff to ‘burn the midnight oil’ and begin operating 24/7 at the company’s Fremont assembly plant in California.
In a long and detailed email obtained by Jalopnik, Musk rallied his teams and laid out the strategy for production of the Model 3 vehicle, setting a higher bar for both his employees and parts suppliers.
On Tuesday the assembly line had been shut down, for up to five days, to begin an upgrade to the way it operates. Later that day the CEO emailed staff with exactly what that would entail.
The email is structure almost like a compliment sandwich, begin and ending with praise for his ‘kickass team’. He starts by congratulating them for three weeks of consistently producing 2,000 cars and ends with calling their accomplishments ‘miracles’.
The more blunt and provocative points of the message are in the middle. The Gigafactory in Nevada and the Fremont plant in California are to stop for up to five days to receive upgrades to set them up for Model 3 production targets of 3,000 per week. Fremont will begin operating 24-hours a day with 400 new jobs created for around seven weeks.
A further upgrade is planned for late May to then double production to 6,000. The high target was issued with an ultimatum: “Please note that all areas of Tesla and our suppliers will be required to demonstrate a Model 3 capacity of 6000 per week by building 850 sets of car parts in 24 hours no later than June 30th,” he wrote.
“Any Tesla department or supplier that is unable to do this will need to have a very good explanation why not, along with a plan for fixing the problem and present that to me directly. We are going to find a way or make a way to get there.”
Part of the reason for setting the target at 6,000 and not 5,000 is to include a margin for error, but a few paragraphs later Musk issues a warning to parts suppliers to meet his company’s high standards.
“Our car needs to be designed and built with such accuracy and precision that, if an owner measures dimensions, panel gaps and flushness, and their measurements don’t match the Model 3 specs, it just means that their measuring tape is wrong,” he added.
“Some parts suppliers will be unwilling or unable to achieve this level of precision. I understand that this will be considered an unreasonable request by some. That’s OK, there are lots of other car companies with much lower standards. They just can’t work with Tesla.”
He also laid out a strategy for boosting profit by skimming away unnecessary expenditure and personally overseeing anything over $1M.
He rounded it all off with a list of productivity recommendations where he takes issue with meetings, acronyms and communication speeds and asks staff to send him a note if they feel that they have any ideas to make Tesla better.
17/04/2018: Tesla shuts down Model 3 Sedan production again
Tesla has reportedly shut down its assembly line for Model 3 cars for a second time after failing to reach manufacturing targets.
CEO Elon Musk gave CBS This Morning host Gayle King a tour of his Silicon Valley factory last week and said he was optimistic about the company's ability to speed up production of their Model 3 Sedan cars.
However, an announcement of a four-to-five day pause in production has since allegedly been issued to Tesla employees, who spoke to BuzzFeed about the issues surrounding the electric car company's production of their Model 3 vehicles.
It's the second time the line has been shut down this year, following a brief pause in production in late February.
Musk introduced the Model 3 Sedan last summer. It was billed as the company's first mid-priced, mass-produced electric car accessible to middle-class customers and not just the super wealthy.
But following issues in assembly, Musk personally took over the Model 3 production line at the beginning of April after realising it needed improving and has even said he had resorted to pulling all-nighters at the plant and, at times, even slept in his factory.
"When things get really intense, I don't have time to go home and shower and change, so I just sleep here," Musk told CBS.
Tesla's main issue has been meeting its production goals over the last six months,BuzzFeed reported. Musk had said the company would be manufacturing 2,500 cars a week by the end of the first quarter of 2018, but it was making only 2,000 per week by the start of April. Now, just two weeks later, production is once again on hold, the publication reports.
The car maker's current goal is to manufacture 5,000 cars per week by the end of the second quarter; 5,000 per week had initially been its year-end goal for 2017.
On April Fool's day, Musk posted a joke on his Twitter about the electric car company going bankrupt, following growing speculation about its future.
Tesla has struggled to reach ambitious production goals during what Musk has referred to as "production hell". He has also cited complacency with the use of technology.
"We got complacent about some of the things that we felt were our core technology....We put too much new technology into the Model 3 all at once. This should have been staged," he said.
A Tesla spokesperson issued the same statement as was given during the last shutdown, saying: “Our Model 3 production plan includes periods of planned downtime in both Fremont and Gigafactory 1. These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates. This is not unusual and is in fact common in production ramps like this.”
09/04/2018: UK government won't create regulation for driverless cars yet
The UK government will not define how autonomous vehicles are regulated before the technology is widely available, it has confirmed.
Instead, the government plans to wait until it sees what kind of driverless technologies will come from car manufacturers, and legislate accordingly, said Parliamentary under-secretary of state for transport, Baroness Sugg.
"Whilst we do know that there will be different types of automated vehicles, with varying levels of sophistication, it is not possible at this stage to state what those changes will be. With this in mind it would not be appropriate to set definitive regulations in legislation at this time," she said in a letter addressed to the House of Lords last month.
Her memo sought to address points raised in Parliamentary debates around Automated and Electric Vehicles (AEV) Bill, including how autonomous vehicles are licensed.
Sugg said the Department for Transport is working with DVLA to ensure the vehicle licensing body's definition of different types of driverless cars works for both insurers and drivers, creating a list of the autonomous cars in the UK potentially by cross-referencing them with cars stored on the DVLA's database.
She also suggested that regulation for autonomous vehicles could be defined under the Road Traffic Act 1988, adding: "Regulating for further standards now is likely to impede innovation but, as new technologies reach the point of market readiness, we will be able to set and define the standards both internationally and domestically."
The day before Sugg's letter, roads minister Jesse Norman made a statement about a review the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission will carry out over the next three years.
The review will focus on how automated vehicles will operate with current laws and whether any new regulations are necessary. Norman also stated that the commissions have to consider how to judge criminal offences in which there is no driver and possibly no steering wheel.
03/04/2018: US watchdog blasts Tesla over Model X crash probe
A US transportation watchdog has said it's "unhappy" with Tesla's handling of an investigation into a fatal crash involving a Model X Tesla, after the company suggested publicly that the driver may have been partly to blame.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is currently investigating the crash and death of driver Walter Huang, has chastised the company for releasing the information to the public during on an ongoing investigation, according to the Washington Post.
Tesla concluded in a blog post that the autopilot technology inside the Model X electric vehicle was engaged six seconds before the vehicle collided with a concrete road divider.
Internal assessments of the car's computer logs showed that the car's autonomous cruise control system, which is designed to speed up or slow down a car, was turned on moments before the incident, according to Tesla.
However, the company added that the driver's hands were off the steering wheel during that time, despite receiving repeated warnings from the vehicle.
"In the moments before the collision, which occurred at 9:27 a.m. on Friday, March 23rd, Autopilot was engaged with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum," said Tesla, in a blog post.
"The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver's hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision."
The company added that the driver had around 5 seconds and 150 metres of unobstructed view of the road before the car hit a concrete divider, however, no action was taken to avoid the obstacle.
Tesla claims that the crash was made more severe as the divider, known as a crash attenuator, had been damaged by a previously unreported incident and was unable to absorb the shock of the crash effectively.
However, reports last week suggested that Huang had complained to Tesla about the car's autopilot feature, frequently returning his Model X to the dealer after the system veered towards the same barrier that his car ultimately collided with.
Tesla has maintained that autonomous autopilot systems have helped reduce crash rates by up to 40% in the US, and that the consequences of the public not using such systems would be "extremely severe".
"There are about 1.25 million automotive deaths worldwide. If the current safety level of a Tesla vehicle were to be applied, it would mean about 900,000 lives saved per year. We expect the safety level of autonomous cars to be 10 times safer than non-autonomous cars," said Tesla.
The UK's Law Commission, responsible for regularly reviewing laws enacted in England and Wales, told IT Pro that automated technology like this is evolving quickly and must be scrutinised before they reach the UK.
"This technology doesn't easily fit within current legal frameworks and questions around safety and accidents, amongst others, have to be answered before they hit British roads," said a spokesperson for the independent body.
The Law Commission echoed a commitment made last month that it would be reviewing relevant laws with the potential of introducing reforms around the use of automated technology, which would also include self-driving cars.
27/03/2018: Uber has been ordered to suspend all tests of its self-driving cars on Arizona roads after one of its vehicles hit and killed a pedestrian last week.
A woman from Tempe was fatally injured by one of Uber's autonomous cars on 18 March while crossing a street, in what is considered to be the first time a pedestrian has been killed by the emerging technology.
Arizona governor Doug Ducey described the incident as an "unquestionable failure" to comply with the expectation that testing of the technology would prioritise public safety above all else, according to a letter addressed to Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi, seen by the New York Times.
In response to the accident, Uber spokesperson Matt Kallman told the NYT that it has "proactively suspended self-driving operations in all cities immediately following the tragic incident last week."
"We continue to help investigators in any way we can, and we'll keep a dialogue open with the governor's office to address any concerns they have."
Despite the self-imposed suspension, Arizona's governor said he has told the state's department of transportation to suspend all further Uber self-driving tests.
IT Pro has contacted Uber for comment.
Arizona has been lauded for its positive attitude towards self-driving cars and its reluctance to impose heavy-handed regulations, favouring instead the potential economic benefits that it could bring.
Arizona's Tempe Police Department said that video evidence suggested that neither the self-driving SUV, nor its onboard safety driver, noticed the pedestrian crossing the road, and that the vehicle failed to slow down before hitting the woman.
Both Google's Waymo and General Motors' Cruise will continue to test their fleets in the state, although it's unclear whether heavier restrictions will be imposed following Sunday's incident.
20/03/2018: Uber suspends self-driving tests as pedestrian dies
Uber has halted trials of its driverless vehicles across North America following a fatal collision between one of its cars and a pedestrian.
The incident happened on Sunday evening in Tempe, Arizona, according to the local police department (as reported by BBC News), when a woman, named as Elaine Herzberg, stepped out into the road in front of the specially equipped Volvo, which was in autonomous mode but also had a human behind the wheel. Herzberg wasn't using a pedestrian crossing at the time.
Tempe police chief Sylvia Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle Uber is likely not at fault, however. "The driver said it was like a flash, the person walked out in front of them," she said. "His first alert to the collision was the sound of the collision."
The incident was caught on video by the car, which had at least two operational cameras at the time - one facing forward in front of the car and one facing the driver. Of the recordings, Moir said: "It's very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode [autonomous or human-driven] based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway."
"I suspect preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident," she added.
This is the second accident involving a self-driving Uber car in Tempe, with one of its vehicles being flipped on its side in a collision last year. However, this is the first reported instance of any autonomous vehicle being involved in a fatal collision.
Consumer Watchdog, a citizen safety lobby group, said on Twitter: "This is a tragedy we have been fighting years to prevent. We hope our calls for real regulation of driverless cars will be taken seriously going forward by Silicon Valley and the Trump Administration."
Tempe mayor Mark Mitchell called Uber "responsible" for pausing driverless car tests, but said he still supports the technology. "Testing must occur safely," he said in a statement. "All indications we have had in the past show that traffic laws are being obeyed by the companies testing here. Our city leadership and Tempe Police will pursue any and all answers to what happened in order to ensure safety moving forward.
"I support the step that Uber has taken to temporarily suspend testing in Tempe until this event is fully examined and understood. That is a responsible step to take at this time."
20/03/2018: Gatwick will implement Oxbotica’s driverless vehicles to ferry its staff around the airport, saving money and reducing emissions.
The airport's 300 airside vehicle spend 90% of their time stationary as their drivers tend to passengers and aircraft around the airfield and in terminal buildings.
The pilot study will be the first step in a much bigger project that may mean other vehicles, such as the buses to take passengers between terminal buildings, aircraft push back tugs, passenger aircraft bridges and luggage trucks are automated in future.
It will attempt to prove driverless vehicles are safe for use on live airfields and could lead to an Uber-like car ordering and staff delivery system around worldwide airports.
“Airports offer an incredibly interesting domain for our autonomous driving software,” Dr. Graeme Smith, CEO of Oxbotica said.
“There is a huge diversity of vehicles, each with a very specific mission. The challenge of choreographing all of the activity around an individual plane, or in support of airport operations is immense and we look forward to working closely with Gatwick on this initial pilot that will demonstrate our self-driving technology carrying staff around the airfield.”
Gatwick’s trial will start this summer, although they won't include passengers or aircraft yet, as the airport trials the vehicles on airside roads between its North and south terminals.
The project will collect a large amount of data from a range of different vehicle types, all powered by Oxobotica’s driverless car technology.
This information will be provided to the Department of Transport, Civil Aviation Authority and others transportation agencies around the world to assess whether they could be used in other markets on a commercial basis.
“If this trial proves successful then in the future we could have an Uber-like service operating across the airfield which staff can hail as and when they need to travel,” said Cathal Corcoran Gatwick Airport's CIO.
“This trial is just the start and much more research will be needed, but ultimately this could be the start of widespread use of autonomous vehicles on airfields across the world. The new technology is a more efficient way to manage vehicles and could lead to a reduction in the number of vehicles required, their associated costs and harmful emissions.”
06/03/2018: Stanford University researchers have come up with new technology that could enable self-driving cars to 'see' around corners and view hidden objects.
Called "Confocal non-line-of-sight imaging", the researchers described the technique in a research paper published in Nature. Scientists used lasers that bounce off walls and onto an object hidden from view, then reflect back from the object, back off the wall and onto a light-detecting sensor.
Normally such scans can take hours to develop, so the team had to come up with an extremely efficient and effective algorithm to process the final image.
"A substantial challenge in non-line-of-sight imaging is figuring out an efficient way to recover the 3D structure of the hidden object from the noisy measurements," said David Lindell, a graduate student in the Stanford Computational Imaging Lab and co-author of the paper. "I think the big impact of this method is how computationally efficient it is."
The new algorithms mean that data from the scans could be processed in less than a second and also run on a regular laptop. Now, the scientists are further developing the system to cope with many more different situations and finish the scan quicker. Work is needed to refine the system to work better when there is a lot of ambient light, though.
The researchers said that if the technology were used on a car today, it could easily detect road signs, safety vests or road markers, although it might have problems with a person wearing non-reflective clothing.
"We believe the computation algorithm is already ready for LIDAR systems," said Matthew O'Toole, a postdoctoral scholar in the Stanford Computational Imaging Lab and co-lead author of the paper. "The key question is if the current hardware of LIDAR systems supports this type of imaging."
01/02/2018: UK to test self-driving car on 200 miles of country roads
A self-driving car project will attempt to navigate over 200 miles of UK country roads and roundabouts in what is considered a major step towards a full rollout of autonomous vehicles by 2021.
The HumanDrive initiative, a collaborative effort between leading car manufacturers and educational groups, will run a series of initial simulations and machine learning tests in order to train the vehicle how to manoeuvre on complex roads, before a live journey in December 2019.
The project aims to take advantage of a raft of changes introduced by chancellor Philip Hammond in November's budget speech, allowing self-driving car trials to start as early as 2019.
Although a handful of live tests have been carried out on UK roads by companies such as Oxbotica, the HumanDrive project is thought to be the first to trial a self-driving car without a human onboard.
The UK hopes to have self-driving cars on roads by 2021, yet progress still lags far behind the likes of the US. However, business and energy secretary Greg Clark told the BBC that "trailblazing projects" like these "will play a vital role helping us deliver on that ambition".
"Low-carbon and self-driving vehicles are the future and they are going to drive forward a global revolution in mobility," added Clark.
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance has pledged its support to the collaboration, alongside Leeds and Cranfield Universities, Highways England and the Transport Systems Catapult.
Initial stages of the project involve using human drivers performing intricate tasks inside a simulator at Leeds University. The data from these tests will be fed into machine learning algorithms, where it will be analysed in order to train the system to drive like a real person.
Mark Westwood, chief technology officer of the Transport Systems Catapult, said UK roads offer unique challenges for autonomous driving systems.
"They are different from American roads with roundabouts and demanding country lanes," said Westwood. "These are really testing environments. This project is about advancing the state of the art and trying to do something more demanding. The control system will learn to drive like a human."
25/01/2018: Crashes call into question autonomous vehicle safety
The safety of self-driving cars is once again up for discussion, following two crashes in California involving cars that had been put into self-drive mode.
The first accident involved a Chevrolet Bolt, which collided with a motorbike on a San Francisco highway.
According to the motorbike rider, Oscar Nilsson, the car – which was in self-driving mode but also had a human driver behind the wheel – started to change lanes to the left, but as he rode forward the Bolt swerved back into its original lane and knocked him to the ground.
Local paper Mercury News reports that the motorcyclist is now suing General Motors, which owns and manufactures Chevrolets and other brands, but the car maker contends Nilsson was at fault.
The other incident, which occurred earlier this week, is slightly less complex in terms of the mechanics of the incident. Rather than involving two moving vehicles, the crash in Culver City was between a stationary fire engine and a Tesla car.
According to Culver City Firefighters, the Model S ploughed straight into the back of one of their fire engines, which was attending a separate incident, at 65mph on a freeway.
The car’s autopilot mode – which allows for semi-autonomous driving, but also requires the driver to be attentive (e.g. holding the wheel and being prepared to intervene if necessary) – was apparently engaged at the time.
There is little other information about the circumstances of the crash, currently. When approached for comment by IT Pro, Tesla didn’t comment on this case in particular, but said: “Autopilot is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver.”
16/01/2018: BlackBerry launches security software designed for self-driving cars
Ailing smartphone firm BlackBerry has had its sights set beyond the mobile industry for some time now since ceding the production of its devices to a third party in 2016.
Focusing instead on its expertise in security software, BlackBerry is now bringing that speciality beyond the smartphone and to driverless cars.
Named Blackberry Jarvis - possibly a nod to the AI system in the Iron Man films - the cybersecurity software aims to identify vulnerabilities in programs used in autonomous vehicles. BlackBerry is promoting it on a pay-as-you-go basis - but, according to Reuters, it could also be used within the healthcare and industrial automation industries.
BlackBerry said that once the software has been bought, car firms will have online access to the Jarvis software, which will give them the ability to scan files at every stage of their software development.
05/01/2017: Roborace and Nvidia jump on level 5 autonomy
Roborace and Nvidia have announced they're working towards introducing level 5 autonomy to Robocars via an upgrade to Nvidia's Drive Pegasus AI autonomous car platform.
The platform was first revealed in October 2017 and is capable of performing 320 trillion operations per second - the computational power equivalent to a 100-server data centre. What's more impressive is the power operates from a device the size of a single licence plate.
“Roborace will enable motorsport to play an increasingly significant role in the development of technologies which will improve driver performance and ultimately save lives on our roads,” said Bryn Balcombe, chief strategy officer at Roborace.
“Cognitive power will soon rival horsepower as an automotive performance measure and the Nvidia Drive Pegasus sets a new benchmark which will enable Roborace to extend competitions well beyond the confines of traditional circuit racing.”
Nvidia's Drive PX platform has already been showcased alongside Roborace's development cars when the two took part in a race around Hong Kong's Formula E street circuit last month.
“Roborace is pushing the limits of AI technology and delivering autonomous driving experiences that have never been achieved before,” said Danny Shapiro, senior director of Automotive at Nvidia.
“The advances made with Nvidia technology in motorsport will accelerate adoption of autonomous vehicles on public roads, making daily travel safer and more enjoyable.”
Although Robocars have been developed with racing in mind, the company hopes to apply much of the technology to street cars too.
22/12/2017: Cruise automated car crashes into a motorcyclist in San Francisco
An automated car operated by General Motors-owned Cruise hit a motorcyclist earlier this year, although it's only just been revealed to the public.
According to a filing with the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the motorcyclist was at fault and although injured in the collision, he was only treated for murder injuries in hospital.
The report explained the Cruise car was travelling in the middle lane of a three-legged road in San Francisco's Lower Haight area. It began moving into a space in the left lane, but as the traffic ahead slowed, it raliser the gap was too small and so returned to the centre lane.
However, in that time, a motorcycle was travelling between the right and centre lanes. It began moving towards the centre lane, hit the autonomous car and fell of his bike.
"We test our self-driving cars in challenging and unpredictable environments precisely because, by doing so, we will get better, safer AV technology on the roads sooner," Cruise said in a statement. "In this case, the motorcyclist merged into our lane before it was safe to do so."
The car’s speed was logged at 12mph, while the motorcyclist was travelling at 17mph.
California’s DMV posts all automated car incidents, including collisions, on its website. This year alone, Cruise has been involved in 14 accidents around San Francisco, including one incident when another vehicle hit the back of a Cruise car.
Although 14 incidents does seem a lot compared to the average non-automated car, this isn’t directly comparable to other automated car manufacturers because Cruise’s biggest competitors - Uber and Waymo - test their cars in Phoenix and Arizona doesn’t post its data publicly.
17/11/2017: Jaguar Land Rover's first autonomous vehicle hits the streets
Jaguar Land Rover tested its first driverless vehicle on British streets it announced today.
The tests are taking place in Coventry, where the company is headquartered. They are part of the £20m UK Autodrive project which is a government-backed competiton to trial autonomous vehicle technology.
The company is using a Range Rover Sportwhich can operate autonomously through a city and is a step closer to level 4 autonomy, one of the highest grades of self-driving a car can reach. It wants to make the autonomous vehicle work in on and off-road driving environments and all kinds of weather.
"Testing this self-driving project on public roads is so exciting, as the complexity of the environment allows us to find robust ways to increase road safety in the future. By using inputs from multiple sensors, and finding intelligent ways to process this data, we are gaining accurate technical insight to pioneer the automotive application of these technologies," said Nick Rogers, executive director of product engineering at Jaguar Land Rover.
In June, Tony Harper, director of engineering research at the company said: "The automotive landscape is changing faster today than ever before. As a technology company, our innovation is continuous and our cars of the future will become more capable, cleaner, more connected, more desirable and smarter. Our Autonomous Urban Drive research is Jaguar Land Rover's next step in our development of both fully and semi-autonomous vehicle technologies."
With the launch of the trials, Coventry joins 12 other cities which are carrying out self-driving vehicle tests on public roads globally.
In Arizona, Google's Waymo has already launched driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans. The driverless vehicles previously had human drivers and offered free rides to residents; now there will be no driver. However, one of Waymo's staff will be present in the vehicle until the novelty wears off.
09/11/2017: Autonomous shuttle involved in accident on its first day
A self-driving shuttle was involved in a crash on it's launch day in Las Vegas yesterday.
The shuttle, launched by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in partnership with Keolis and manufactured by NAVYA, had begun its first day of a 12-month pilot scheme
The City of Las Vegas stated that the shuttle was "grazed" by a delivery truck in downtown Las Vegas.
"The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that it's sensors registered the truck and the shuttle stopped to avoid the accident.
"Unfortunately the delivery truck did not stop and grazed the front fender of the shuttle. Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has the accident would have been avoided," the City wrote.
It added that the shuttle will continue with its 12-month pilot scheme but remained out of service for the rest of the day yesterday.
The driver of the truck was issued a ticket by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police.
Mike Blasky, PR at AAA, wrote on Twitter: "Truck making delivery backed into shuttle, which was stopped. Human error causes most traffic collisions and this was no different. Driver of truck was cited. No one hurt except a bruised bumper!"
shuttle aims to provide a quarter of a million visitors and residents of Las Vegas with the chance to ride a self driving vehicle. The pilot also wants to survey riders to see if they are wary of driverless technology and whether taking part in the scheme changes their mind. The AAA wants to explore how other people on the street react to the autonomous vehicle too.
The shuttle has LiDAR technology, GPS, cameras and can seat up to 8 passengers with seatbelts. It covers a 0.6 mile loop in the Fremont East district and can be boarded at any of its three stops.
08/11/2017: Waymo launches fully-autonomous cars
The race to deploy truly driverless cars has hotted up, with Waymo announcing that its fleet of autonomous vehicles in Phoenix, Arizona will now operate with no 'safety driver'.
Waymo, the self-driving car arm of Google's parent company Alphabet, has had a number of Chrysler Pacifica minivans operating in the Phoenix area since April 2017, offering free rides to residents. Until now, however, they have had a human driver behind the wheel who can take action in case of emergency – a stipulation in most locations where autonomous vehicles are being tested on public roads.
At Web Summit in Lisbon, however, John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, revealed that these vehicles will now start operating without a driver.
"What you're seeing now marks the start of a new phase for Waymo and the history of this technology, Krafcik said, according to USA Today.
"Our ultimate goal is to bring our fully self-driving technology to more cities in the US and around the world," he added.
Waymo's testing had largely taken place in California until recently, but it ran into several regulatory barriers and subsequently moved to Arizona, where there's no need for a special permit in order to operate an autonomous vehicle on public roads.
The state offers other benefits too, notably its steady, warm climate; it's easier for driverless cars to operate in reliably dry conditions than in rain, snow, high winds and so on. It also doesn't have the high variability of daylight hours that states and, indeed, countries further north do.
Arizonan passengers who successfully applied to a programme to use one of Waymo's fully-autonomous vehicles won't be totally alone at first, with a member of Waymo's staff present in the vehicle until the novelty wears off. After that time, however, there will be no human intermediary between the car and those who choose to be taken for a spin.
08/09/2017: Former Android developer Cyanogen leaps into driverless cars
Remember Cyanogen, the open-source Android developer? After renaming itself Cyngn — though it's presumably pronounced the same way — the company looks set to pivot into driverless car development.
Cyngn has received a permit to test driverless cars in California, according to a report by Axios, and job listings suggest its on the lookout for staff to develop hardware and software for autonomous cars. The report claims it's hired dozens of employees with such skills recently.
The company imploded last year following layoffs and the departure of CEO Kirt McMaster, who was replaced by former COO Lior Tal. It then stopped updating its CyanogenMod version of Android, which let users fiddle with settings and personalise the mobile operating system, offering an alternative to running the wholly Google linked OS.
An alternative version of autonomous car software could be seen as a useful counter to the driverless systems under development by Silicon Valley giants, but there's plenty of rivals for Cyngn to have to see off for its as yet unannounced version to win the business of car makers.
08/09/2017: UK launches new autonomous vehicle initiative
The government has announced the launch of its MERIDIAN programme, which will help those developing driverless vehicles co-ordinate their testing and is a place to store information regarding all autonomous vehicle testing in the UK.
Part of the initiative will involve developing a "cluster of excellence" along the M40 corridor, where the majority of driverless car testing will occur. The government hopes that by building a hotspot for autonomous vehicle testing, it will attract investment from businesses both at home and abroad, helping to build the UK's reputation as a leader in connected car testing.
"At the heart of our Industrial Strategy is a commitment to delivering world class science, research and innovation," climate change and industry minister Claire Perry said. "The MERIDIAN co-ordination hub embodies this ambition, creating a globally recognisable brand that will bring the automotive sector, academia and Government together behind a common set of strategic goals."
The project has been part-funded by the government’s £100 million CAV investment programme and the rest of the funding has been provided by the tech industry, which recognises the importance of building a hub to continue the effective development of autonomous vehicle testing.
"These technologies are coming and will profoundly change our understanding of mobility," Ford director of global vehicle evaluation and verification and chair of the Auto Council Technology Group, Graham Hoare said. "The UK has long-standing capabilities across many of the sectors supporting new vehicle technologies and an approach that is more open and collaborative than other markets."
How do self-driving cars work?
Self-driving cars use a battery of sensors to detect their surroundings, including radar, lasers and camera arrays. The vehicle's onboard computer then uses specialised software to react to this input in real-time, adjusting the car's steering and acceleration to suit the situation.
While some vehicles, such as the Google prototypes which have popularised the idea, are totally autonomous, other cars only automate certain aspects of driving. Tesla's Autopilot feature, for example, features adaptive cruise control, which maintains a safe speed and distance from other vehicles when driving on the motorway.
It also features basic automated steering to ensure you don't accidentally drift into the wrong lane, and although it can perform basic steering maneuvers automatically, it is not intended to replace a human driver altogether.
Are self-driving cars safe?
There is still much debate over whether or not fully autonomous cars should be made widely available. Some say that their safety record is impeccable, while others argue that automobiles are simply too dangerous to be operated by an algorithm.
This debate has been reignited by a number of high-profile Tesla crashes, one of which has been blamed on an Autopilot malfunction. The incidents have raised questions over whether or not self-driving technology is ready for implementation.
On the other hand, Google has emphasised how safe its fleet of self-driving cars are. As part of the testing programme for its autonomous vehicles, the company has posted regular safety logs detailing any crashes the vehicles are involved in, with the vast majority being caused by human drivers in other cars.
Experts remain divided, however, and if self-driving cars are ever likely to be widely commercially available, they will doubtless be heavily regulated, monitored and tested.
When will self-driving cars hit the road?
In many cases, they already have. Some high-end luxury vehicles already feature 'assisted driving' elements that are close to fully autonomous driving, with Tesla being the obvious example.
Elsewhere, testing of various driverless car projects is underway in the US, with California, Texas, Seattle and more all hosting autonomous vehicle test runs. The UK government has also given the green light for similar trials in Britain, so UK commuters may soon be sharing the roads with autonomous shuttles.
As for when driverless cars will become commercially available, however, that is yet to be seen. As the technology is young and comparatively untested, it is likely that substantial tests will have to be conducted in partnership with government and regulatory bodies before the vehicles are available for public purchase.
There is also a question as to whether or not the average driver will be able to purchase one at all. Even if fully autonomous cars are allowed to be sold, the price of each vehicle is likely to be prohibitively expensive due to the large amount of sophisticated technology that goes into them.
As such, it's likely to be at least a few years before autonomous cars are approved for general road use, and most likely another few years after that before they become a commonplace sight.
***** More Pages On the site *****
NTSB: Uber’s sensors worked; its software utterly failed in fatal crash
Driver says she was looking at an Uber touchscreen, not a smartphone, before crash.
TIMOTHY B. LEE - 5/24/2018, 8:10 AM
"The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on the fatal March crash of an Uber self-driving car in Tempe, Arizona. It paints a damning picture of Uber's self-driving technology.
The report confirms that the sensors on the vehicle worked as expected, spotting pedestrian Elaine Herzberg about six seconds prior to impact, which should have given it enough time to stop given the car's 43mph speed.
The problem was that Uber's software became confused, according to the NTSB. "As the vehicle and pedestrian paths converged, the self-driving system software classified the pedestrian as an unknown object, as a vehicle, and then as a bicycle with varying expectations of future travel path," the report says.
Things got worse from there.
At 1.3 seconds before impact, the self-driving system determined that an emergency braking maneuver was needed to mitigate a collision. According to Uber, emergency braking maneuvers are not enabled while the vehicle is under computer control, to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior.
The vehicle operator is relied on to intervene and take action. The system is not designed to alert the operator.
The vehicle was a modified Volvo XC90 SUV. That vehicle comes with emergency braking capabilities, but Uber automatically disabled these capabilities while its software was active.
The vehicle operator—who had been looking down in the seconds before the crash—finally took action less than a second before the fatal crash. She grabbed the steering wheel shortly before the car struck Herzberg, then slammed on the brakes a fraction of a second after the impact. The vehicle was traveling at 39mph at the time of the crash.
Dashcam footage of the driver looking down at her lap has prompted a lot of speculation that she was looking at a smartphone. But the driver told the NTSB that she was actually looking down at a touchscreen that was used to monitor the self-driving car software.
"The operator is responsible for monitoring diagnostic messages that appear on an interface in the center stack of the vehicle dash and tagging events of interest for subsequent review," the report said.
The driver said she had two cell phones in the car, but neither was used until after the crash, when she called 911.
A report from The Information's Amir Efrati earlier this month provides some valuable context for the NTSB's report.
"There's a reason Uber would tune its system to be less cautious about objects around the car," Efrati added. "It is trying to develop a self-driving car that is comfortable to ride in."
"Uber had been racing to meet an end-of-year internal goal of allowing customers in the Phoenix area to ride in Uber’s autonomous Volvo vehicles with no safety driver sitting behind the wheel," Efrati wrote."
Last edited by Statistical on Thu May 24, 2018 11:09 am:
"The pedestrian wasn't on the side of the road. She had already walked across three lanes before the Uber vehicle hit her.
Also classification may be necessary at longer distances but once the car got within a few seconds of the obstacle the classificaiton doesn't matter. Person, bike, or car they can't move enough to matter.
There is a SOMETHING directly in your path and if you don't immediately hit the brakes you will collide with in in 1.8 seconds. The only sensible thing to do would be to brake. The Uber vehicle didn't even reduce speed it just plowed through the obstacle at full speed.
Now this was made even worse because that obstacle turned out to be a human pedestrian but let's revise the situation. Let's say the obstacle had been a refrigerator which fell off the truck.
You can't really blame a CAR AI for not being able to properly classify a refrigerator because it isn't something expected to be in the road but if there is an 'unknown something' directly in your path you can blame the car AI manufacturer for not stopping.
Plowing into a refrigerator at 45 mph would be dangerous to the car and passengers as well."
EEVblog #1088 - Uber Autonomous Car Accident Report
Published on May 24, 2018
The NTSB today released the report into the fatal Uber Autonomous car accident.
Spoiler: Details, resources - NTSB Report Link
The RADAR, LIDAR, and cameras DID detect and classify pedestrian bicycle correctly.
The system DID determine that emergency braking was required.
But Uber disabled the systems emergency braking feature in autonomous mode.
Uber also disabled Volvo's inbuilt pedestrian safety detection system.
There is also no system to alert the driver that the system detected
an emergency braking scenario.
Uber are rooted.
The NTSB report: https://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-relea...
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