Displaying items by tag: autonomous

South Korean multinational conglomerate Samsung has been given the green light to begin testing its self-driving technology on public roads in the country. The South Korean government gave the smartphone colossus permission to test out the new self-driving technologies it has developed. Samsung is the latest amongst a number of other companies that were granted approval to begin testing self-driving tech on the country’s road.

Samsung have long expressed its desire to develop cutting edge self-driving technology, and has previously disclosed that it was developing the tech – which is set to completely revolutionize the car industry. South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport formally announced that it approved Samsung’s request. It has now paved the way for Samsung to begin testing its modified test car, which is equipped with sensors and cameras which is used to run Samsung’s software for autonomous driving.

Hyundai was actually the first to gain approval to test autonomous tech on South Korean roads, having cleared the hurdle more than a year ago in February, 2016. Regulations have also eased in that time: Companies can now test vehicles with just one human driver, where the rule when first implemented required at least two people on board during testing.

California is also looking to ease its requirements. South Korea’s recent rule changes also include laying the groundwork for allowing vehicles without any steering wheels or pedals, which is part of the proposed amendments to California regulations; Michigan recently passed a law that allows for the same.

Published in Internet of Things

US electrical car maker Tesla has launched its services in the UAE - following an official announcement by Tesla CEO, Elon Musk at the World Government Summit. Tesla has initiated operations in Dubai, and also disclosed plans to open a shop and service station in Abu Dhabi next year.

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk revealed that he planned to invest millions in the UAE on infrastructure including recharging stations - predicting that in the next twelve months consumers will be able to drive anywhere with an electric vehicle. Musk said, "We expect to invest tens of millions of dollars in the UAE for charging, service, and support infrastructure. By next year, you'll be able to travel anywhere in the GCC with an electric vehicle."

Musk believes the biggest challenge facing Tesla is trying to persuade car buyers to switch from petrol to electric, but is excited about expanding operations in the UAE. That said - orders have already started for Tesla's Model S sedan and Model X SUV, which are expected to be delivered this summer. Prices start from Dh275,000 for the Model S and Dh344,000 for the X.

A pop-up shop will be launched in Dubai Mall, a Tesla Ranger support center and service center will be erected near Interchange 2 of Sheikh Zayed Road, which is due to be open in July.

Chairman of the World Government Summit, Mohammad Abdulla Algerawi, then conducted an interview with Tesla's CEO on stage at the World Government Summit - in what was a captivating, thought provoking and ultimately fascinating experience for the large audience assembled to hear the thoughts of the tech visionary.

Musk outlined his vision for his organizations Tesla and SpaceX - and claimed that mass adoption of autonomous vehicles by car manufacturers was going to happen much quicker than people expect.

Musk said: "My guess is that in probably about ten years it will be very unusual for cars to be built that aren't fully autonomous. Almost all cars that will be produced will be capable of full autonomy in about ten years. Tesla cars that are made today have the sensor system necessary for full autonomy and we think probably enough compute power to be safer than a person."

The Chairman of the World Government Summit recalled the time when he first met with Musk at his office in SpaceX in July, 2015, and queried if he had plans to have a presence in the UAE, at that time Musk responded by saying, 'I'm busy in China, so not in the near future'. But in eighteen months he has made the decision to expand to the UAE - so why did the Tesla CEO make the move?

Musk said, "Well things are going reasonably well in China, we had some initial challenges figuring our charging and service infrastructure and various other things, but now it's going very well - so the timing appeared to be good to really make a significant debut in this region starting in Dubai."

When asked what's next in technology, Musk said the most near term impact from a technology standpoint is autonomous cars. Musk said: "It's going to happen much faster than people realize and it's going to be a great convenience to have an autonomous car, but there are many people whose job is to drive - in fact it might be the single largest employer of people is driving in various forms. So we need to figure out new roles for what do those people, but it will be very disruptive and quick."

Musk also added later in the conversation that he fully believes that in the future there will be a Universal Basic Income - simply because he feels there will be very few jobs we can do that can't be done better by a robot.

Published in Government

BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye announced on January 8, 2017, that a fleet of approximately 40 autonomous BMW vehicles will be on the roads by the second half of 2017, demonstrating the significant advancements made by the three companies towards fully autonomous driving. Revealing this at a podium discussion held during a joint press conference at CES, the companies explained that the BMW 7 Series will employ cutting-edge Intel and Mobileye technologies during global trials starting in the US and Europe.

This news follows the partnership that was announced between the BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye in July of last year. The companies have since developed a scalable architecture that can be adopted by other automotive developers and carmakers to pursue state of the art designs and create differentiated brands. The offerings scale from individual key integrated modules to a complete end-to-end solution providing a wide range of differentiated consumer experiences.

"Making autonomous driving a reality for our customers is the shared ambition behind our cooperation with Intel and Mobileye,” stated Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Development. “This partnership has all of the skills and talent necessary to overcome the enormous technological challenges ahead and commercialize self-driving vehicles. Therefore, we are already thinking in terms of scalability and welcome other companies – manufacturers, suppliers or technology companies – to participate and contribute to our autonomous platform.

“This year our fleet of vehicles will already test this joint technology globally under real traffic conditions. This is a significant step towards the introduction of the BMW iNEXT in 2021, which will be the BMW Group’s first fully autonomous vehicle.”

“From an industry perspective, we are already seeing savings and speed in development by sharing development costs and in pooling resources to develop a complete autonomous platform. The car to cloud system will perform with consistent, predictable behavior and is validated to the highest level of safety,” said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. “That’s why this partnership is breaking new ground. We have established a dedicated team with clear, shared goals and a culture of innovation, agility and accountability.”

“Over the last six months, we have made very good progress in designing a state-of-the-art solution for autonomous driving on both highways and in urban areas. The solution has been defined in a scalable manner to allow affiliate automakers to meet their unique needs,” said Mobileye Co-Founder, Chairman and CTO Professor Amnon Shashua.

As part of this partnership, the BMW Group will be responsible for driving control and dynamics, evaluation of overall functional safety including setting up a high performance simulation engine, overall component integration, production of prototypes and eventually scaling the platform via deployment partners.

Intel brings to the partnership innovative high performance computing elements that span from the vehicle to the data center. The newly launched Intel GO solution for autonomous driving offers a world class processor and FPGA technologies for the most efficient balance of performance and power, while meeting the stringent thermal and safety requirements of the automotive industry. 

Within the car, the Intel GO solution offers a scalable development and computer platform for critical functions including sensor fusion, driving policy, environment modeling, path planning and decision making.  In the data center, Intel GO offers a wide range of technologies ranging from the high performance Intel Xeon processors, to Intel Arria 10 FPGAs and Intel Solid State Drives to the Intel Nervana platform for artificial intelligence that provides a powerful machine and deep learning training and simulation infrastructure required for the autonomous driving industry.

Mobileye contributes its proprietary EyeQ 5 high-performance computer vision processor offering automotive-grade functional safety and low-power performance. The EyeQ 5 is responsible for processing and interpretation of input from the 360-degree surround view vision sensors as well as localization. EyeQ 5, in combination with Intel CPU and FPGA technologies, forms the Central Computing Platform to be integrated into each autonomous vehicle.

Mobileye will further collaborate with the BMW Group to develop the sensor fusion solution, creating a full model of the environment surrounding the vehicle, using input from vision, radar, and lidar sensors. As well as establishing a driving policy, including Mobileye’s reinforcement learning algorithms used to endow the vehicle system with the artificial intelligence required to safely negotiate complex driving situations.

To further propel the development of the autonomous platform, the partnership plans to release hardware samples and software updates in the upcoming years. The BMW iNEXT model, which will be introduced in 2021, will be the foundation for BMW Group’s autonomous driving strategy. Following this vehicle, a range of highly automated models from all BMW Group brands will follow.

Published in Internet of Things

The Finnish capital of Helsinki has launched its autonomous transportation system as self-driving buses take to the streets of the innovative smart city. French company Easy-Mile have developed the small electric buses which can transport up to nine passengers at speeds of up to 25mph – although it has been confirmed that they’ve been restricted to 7mph during their trial period.

Two buses designed by the French company began travelling the roads of Helsinki this week in real traffic, and it has captured the imagination of Helsinki residents who are intrigued by the new form of public transport in their city.  The buses are being used primarily to move passengers between two busy public transit stations in the city’s waterfront Hernesaari district, and the vehicle has a bus driver stationed on-board in case of any emergencies that may arise.

Many other locations in the world have tested autonomous vehicles, most notably Singapore, but that has taken place in controlled test environments, in Helsinki this project is being implanted amongst real traffic.

The project is part of Helsinki's ambitious plan to make car ownership in the city obsolete within a decade. The city already has a very efficient public transport system, but it is also developing an on-demand mobility program, which would allow people to use integrated mobile apps to book and pay for any trip by bus, train, taxi, bicycle and car sharing.

Helsinki's Deputy Mayor Pekka Sauri said the city wants to be internationally renowned for smart urban transport solutions. "We hope more companies and research institutions in Helsinki will be developing self-driving buses," he said in a statement.

The buses will make their debut in two other Finnish cities -- Espoo and Tampere -- later this fall. They'll be taken out of action after the first snowfall, but then return to the roads in the spring.

Finnish law does not require a driver to be present in vehicles, easing the way for self-driving transport options.

"The law doesn't actually require it, it's the way it has been written historically, but the government has embraced it in relation to self-driving vehicles," said project manager Harri Santamala.

This exciting development in innovation and technology comes on the back of a statement made by car giant Ford who have indicated that its self-driving vehicles will be in mass production within the next five years.

On Tuesday, the company released a press statement that said: “Self-driving Fords that have no steering wheels, brake or gas pedals will be in mass production within five years. These cars will be very different from the current models of self-driving cars that Ford and other companies are now testing.”

Those vehicles still have space for drivers, who are expected to take control of the cars in case problems arise. Ford says its goal is to have true self-driving cars in which everyone inside is a true passenger.

Published in Government

Nissan unveiled the latest in a series of innovations designed to bring the benefits of its Intelligent Mobility blueprint to the daily lives of customers. Following the success of the Intelligent Parking Chair earlier this year, the newly-developed ProPILOT Chair negotiates queues on behalf of its occupant, sparing them the hassle of standing in line.

Named after the company’s flagship autonomous driving technology, the ProPILOT Chair detects and automatically follows the chair ahead of it, maintaining a fixed distance and travelling along a set path. This closely resembles how the ProPILOT system for vehicles—available on the Serena minivan in Japan since August—maintains a safe distance behind the car ahead, and ensures that the vehicle stays in the center of its lane.

The ProPILOT Chair appeals to anyone who has queued for hours outside a crowded restaurant, as it eliminates the tedium and physical strain of standing in line. The same user-friendly philosophy underpins Nissan’s ProPILOT autonomous driving technology, which was designed to ease driver workload by assisting with the most tiring and repetitive aspects of driving in heavy highway traffic. The unifying concept behind both is Intelligent Mobility, Nissan’s vision for how cars will be driven, powered and integrated into society.

Nissan will also ensure that the ProPILOT Chair receives plenty of real-world testing. Between now and December 27, restaurants across Japan can apply to use the chairs by tweeting their name and webpage along with the hashtags #NissanProPilotChair #Wanted. For all other Twitter users, the recommended hashtag is #NissanProPilotChair.

The chairs will appear at selected restaurants in 2017. In the meantime, from September 29 through October 2, the public gallery at Nissan’s Global Headquarters in Yokohama will play home to an exhibit, featuring six of the chairs. Visitors will be able to try the chairs and see them in action in a queue simulation.

Published in Gadget

Uber officially deployed its first fleet of driverless vehicles last week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company was beaten to the race to be the first company to deploy autonomous taxis when nuTonomy rolled them out in Singapore in late August. Only customers considered to be ‘loyal’ are able to try out the new driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh.

The deployment of driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh came earlier than was initially expected – only two years after Uber announced its intentions of having driverless vehicles pick up passengers. The company’s CEO initially said would take decades to implement, Econo Times reported. Uber drivers reportedly feared that their jobs would become obsolete once the new concept was put in place.

For now, driverless cars are only able to transfer a select few passengers and take them to select destinations. To maneuver through the busy streets of Pittsburgh, the autonomous cars are equipped with loads of contraptions such as traffic light sensors, 3D-mapping lasers, and a weather detection system, ABC News reported. The cars are occupied by a safety driver behind the wheel to ensure nothing goes wrong. Because of this, passengers probably won’t feel a huge difference in experience. 

The execution of driverless vehicles is a big step up for Uber, since it now has its own physical assets. In the past, Uber drivers had to have their own vehicle to be an Uber driver; therefore, Uber didn’t own any vehicles. Now Uber owns driverless vehicles which will be kitted out with all sorts of sensors and safety features to ensure efficiency and safety.

Published in Internet of Things

Traditional robots as we know them are clunky, lifeless, and made of either metal or plastic. For years, engineers have been searching for a way to end this perception, by introducing a robot made from soft materials and that can control itself like a living being. At Harvard University, this dream has become a reality thanks to two scientists who have published a paper in Nature about their charismatic, autonomous, soft-material ‘Octobot’.

The Octobot’s creators, Robert Wood and Jennifer Lewis, both at the Wyss Institute for Biology Inspired Engineering, created an incredible piece of soft smart technology that is controlled by a computer governing its movements - a major milestone. The Octobot’s only downside is that it doesn’t possess a lot of agility, but that was always going to be the challenge when creating a robot made out of soft materials.

“The struggle has always been in replacing rigid components like batteries and electronic controls with analogous like batteries and electronic controls with analogous soft systems and then putting it all together,” said Wood in a Harvard news release. “This research demonstrates that we can easily manufacture the key components of a simple, entirely soft robot, which lays the foundation for more complex designs.”

According to a report by Tech Crunch, the Octobot is mostly 3D printed. After that, its body is inlaid with channels that can both power and govern the robots movement, which is “pneumatic”, powered by the robot’s fuel, hydrogen peroxide. Fuel is pushed through the limbs and it inflates them, which is a pretty impressive feature in itself. The “microfluidic” network is expertly designed so that one limb shuts down as the other limb inflates, resulting in a “predetermined sequence”. The Octobot needs no assistance for this process, hence its “autonomous” reference.

This network was developed from the work of chemist and co-author George Whitesides who is also from the Wyss Institute, says the report. The Octobot is the first machine of its kind, and is said to be far simpler than anything similar before it. The Octobot’s soft design could lead the way to other breakthroughs in soft robotics which could operate inside humans as replacement organs. According to the Octobot’s creators, the next version of it will be able to swim and interact with objects around it.

Published in Gadget

Tesla and Google both agree that autonomous vehicles will make streets safer. The two tech giants are racing towards a driverless future. The benefits of Tesla’s autopilot feature were proven recently when a Tesla Model X vehicle navigated 20 miles of highway on autopilot, saving its passengers’ life. 37-year-old Joshua Neally was driving home in Springfield, Missouri, when he suffered a blockage of his lung arteries which could have killed him if not for his vehicles’ autonomous technology. But the story’s a stark contrast from an incident in May when a man was killed using Tesla’s autopilot mode.

A recent post on Slate.com reveals Joshua Neally’s frightening story of survival and how his Tesla’s incredible technology saved his life. When he was driving home, Neally says he suddenly felt something like “a steel pole through my chest.” He was surrounded by mounting traffic on the highway when the pain started to hit him hard. He knew he needed help as soon as possible. In that moment, Neally told Slate, he calculated that he could more likely reach the hospital by using his car’s autopilot capability as opposed to pulling over and calling for an ambulance.

Neally instructed his Tesla Model X to drive autonomously along the highway to the nearest hospital. The vehicle drove for more than 20 miles before reaching an off-ramp near a hospital in Branson. Having made it that far, Neally took the wheel for the final stretch, and then made his way to the emergency room. Luckily for Neally, he was treated and walked away unharmed. He had suffered a pulmonary embolism, a blockage of lung arteries that reportedly kills 50,000 people a year.

Neally’s story is a milestone in autonomous vehicle history. Autonomous vehicles have received no small amount of criticism in the past year – particularly Tesla – a company at the forefront of the technology along with Google. Tesla suffered a big blow to its reputation after the sustainable automaker announced the first known death caused by a self-driving Tesla model.

The incident occurred on May 7 in Williston, Florida, after driver Joshua Brown, 40, put his Tesla Model S into Tesla’s autopilot mode, which is capable of driving the car on highways. The vehicle’s sensor system reportedly failed to distinguish a large white 18-wheel truck and trailer crossing the highway before it. Tesla says the car attempted to drive full speed under the trailer, “with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.” It was a horrific incident, with a police report in the Levy County Journal saying the top of the vehicle “was torn off by the force of the collision.”

The incident raised serious concerns about the safety of autonomous vehicles. Tesla attempted to avoid blame for the man’s death, claiming that it was Tesla’s first known autopilot death in some 130 million vehicles driven by its customers. “Among all vehicles in the U.S., there is a fatality every 94 million miles,” the company noted in a statement, which continued to highlight that the car’s autonomous software is designed for users to keep their hands on the wheels to ensure they’re paying attention. “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still required the driver to remain alert,” said Tesla.

America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the accident. The company said: “Preliminary reports indicate the vehicle crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection on a non-controlled access highway. The driver of the Tesla died due to injuries sustained in the crash.”

Another unfortunate incident in July once again thrust Tesla into the spotlight regarding its autonomous technology. According to reports, an art dealer called Albert Scaglione claimed that Tesla’s autonomous feature was responsible for a crash that rolled his Model X on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on July 1. Police said the car crashed into a guard rail and hit the median before landing on its roof. Thankfully Scaglione survived.

This time, however, the blame wasn’t immediately directed at Tesla. Police said the driver was likely to blame seeing as there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest that the vehicles’ autopilot was at fault. In a statement Tesla completely rejected any blame, saying that it had “no reason to believe” that the car’s autopilot was activated at the time of the crash.

"We received an automated alert from this vehicle on July 1 indicating airbag deployment, but logs containing detailed information on the state of the vehicle controls at the time of the collision were never received,” said Tesla in a statement. “This is consistent with damage of the severity reported in the press, which can cause the antenna to fail. As we do with all crash events, we immediately reached out to the customer to confirm they were ok and offer support, but were unable to reach him. We have since attempted to contact the customer three times by phone without success. Based on the information we have now, we have no reason to believe that Autopilot had anything to do with this accident."

It’s not all negative feedback for Tesla’s autonomous mode. A report by The Guardian suggests that Tesla has generated massive fanfare with its autopilot mode and has inspired its consumers, regardless of the risk, to discover what they can do while letting the car drive autonomously. For example, a popular video posted online depicts a man taking a nap while his car navigates busy traffic. But another user claimed that his Tesla was unable to see lines on the road before it during bright sunlight in the morning or at dusk.

At the end of the day, Tesla’s autonomous technology is a game-changer, and could revolutionize driving as we currently know it. The major issue many reports have highlighted regarding autonomous technology in cars is people being too trusting. It can be tempting for a driver to use autopilot as a scapegoat to relax and completely ignore the road, when in reality, companies like Tesla strictly advise drivers using autonomous mode to concentrate on the road ahead. It also presents an opportunity for drivers to shift the blame of their actions on the technology in the vehicle, which puts companies like Tesla in a difficult position where it has to defend itself against tough questions about its responsibility in collisions.

When Google tested its self-driving car prototype a few years ago on its employees, the testers noticed that once behind the wheel of the modified Lexus SUV, the drivers quickly got distracted with rummaging through their bags or playing on their phones and taking their hands off the steering wheel – all while travelling on a freeway at 60mp/h.

“Within about five minutes, everybody thought the car worked well, and after that, they just trusted it to work,” said Chris Urmon, head of Google’s self-driving car program. “It got to the point where people were doing ridiculous things in the car.” After witnessing these incidents, Google opted to work on its algorithms until they are completely human proof before allowing people to use its autonomous technology in public.

The important thing to remember, in reference to the recent incident with Mr. Neally, is that his Tesla’s autonomous mode increased his chances of survival by taking away the burden of having to drive the vehicle the whole way to the hospital himself, but he still had to drive at the end. In its current form, autopilot mode is only able to be used for navigating highways. Even companies as advanced as Tesla are still far from producing a completely autonomous vehicle that needs no assistance at all.


Published in Reports