Self Driving Cars

The Jetsons broadcast into American living rooms in 1962. The futuristic cartoon was based on how we all might be living in 2062. Flying cars, housecleaning robots and video calls…hmmm… looks like we’re right on track. Motor Trend listed the Buick as the best car of 1962, which came standard with an AM radio.  

Twenty years later Night Rider was created in 1982, by this point, cars had advanced to include AM/FM radios and tape players.  

Today our vehicles are essentially equal parts computer/machine. A voice command can start off verbal directions to anywhere, a beep tells us we’re too close to another car or object and can hit the breaks for us. We’re currently to some degree co-piloting with our cars. It makes absolute sense that the next level of auto-evolution would be self-driving cars which ironically rename the dash, the cockpit.

A recent Verge article asks and answers the question, where are the autonomous cars?  As it turns out, the technology is here, though the profit is not. Much like the manufacturing of fast cars has an extremely small American market due to the still remaining popularity of large vehicles, self-driving cars fall into the same category. They’re small.

The article continues to include a few urban locations where these cars are being tested on real streets in real traffic, more specifically for use of delivering products and people.

 Google Lexus Self-Driving Car

Google Lexus Self-Driving Car

Either way, the race is still on to bring the car of the future into our driveways sooner than later. Tesla, General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and even Kia are all digging their mechanical and software engineering heels into the starting line. According to Market Watch, we’re ready and set, GO however is not expected to happen for another 15-20 years.

For many of us, that’s a crushed dream of anxiety-free parallel parking and nap to work wishes. For most, however, we’re psychologically not so sure about the idea. A report compiled by AAA in 2016 found that 75% of people are afraid of letting their car do the driving; although psychologists feel it will be a fairly easy fear to defeat. Somehow we all got over the Computerphobia of the 1980’s, we’ll likely do the same with our phobia about self-driving cars in the 2030’s. 

In the meantime, we can expect to see more and more cars with self-driving aspects such as self-steering and breaking. Phasing into trusting our car to do all the driving might just be the best way to go. 

Guest Blogger: Allison Green

 

 

Autonomous Vehicles – Pros & Cons

Small and large Automakers in 2017 are making impressive progress toward offering fully autonomous vehicles.  There are pros and cons to this new amazing technology that many of us anticipate with excitement and some with dread and uncertainty. We will begin with the cons and end with the pros.

First of all, many people are worried about their jobs. The Insurance Journal reports that as many as four million truck, bus, delivery and taxi driving jobs could be lost if fully autonomous vehicle technology is adopted in a short period of time, according to a new report (Center for Global Policy Solutions (CGPS).  US states where workers have the most to lose when the new technology is adopted:  North Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Iowa and Indiana. 

Driving jobs in these states offer the highest wages in comparison to non-driving jobs and when fully autonomous vehicles take hold it could leave a very serious economic toll. To learn more about the 2017 CGPS study visit the Insurance Journal.

Fully autonomous vehicles are not likely to hit the roadways anytime soon as coordination efforts between government, insurance and automakers must be scrutinized and enacted in accordance to hammered over policies and regulations. 

 The Daimler Freightliner Inspiration, a self-driving long-haul truck, is seen during an event at the Hoover Dam, May 5, 2015, near Boulder City, Nev.  John Locher/AP

The Daimler Freightliner Inspiration, a self-driving long-haul truck, is seen during an event at the Hoover Dam, May 5, 2015, near Boulder City, Nev.  John Locher/AP

In 2017 most manufacturers are creating cars/trucks with partial autonomous control but not completely driverless control. The Inspiration Truck by Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is the first licensed autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway in the U.S. called a level 3 autonomous vehicle where the trucker is still largely in control. Discover the videos that bring to life this cutting edge first commercial autonomous truck on US Highways.

General Motors Executive, Gier, reports that:  “In 2017, we’ll launch our Super Cruise feature, which keeps you centered in your lane and lets you take your hands off the steering wheel,” he said. That development will position the automotive industry at the brink of what he terms Level 3 in the progression toward vehicle autonomy.   

From GM – Detroit: On the heels of the signing of the SAVE Act legislation to support autonomous vehicle testing and deployment in Michigan, General Motors will immediately begin testing autonomous vehicles on public roads. GM also announced it will produce the next generation of its autonomous test vehicles at its Orion Township assembly plant beginning in early 2017. Discover more at their media page.  

Volvo plans to make their autonomous model by 2020 — in 2017 they will be testing 100 cars on China's public roads.  This is the largest test to date and will include Chinese citizen volunteers.  Per Volvo:

"Even in a self-driving car, you’re always in control when you want to be. You can mix and match your journey with both autonomous and active driving. And there is no doubt that Autopilot driving technology has the potential to improve road safety dramatically, helping Volvo Cars to reach its goal that nobody should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020.

For instance, the all-new Volvo XC90 has automatic braking at intersections—so if you turn in front of an oncoming vehicle, the car will apply the brakes for you."  Click here to discover more from Volvo’s dynamic videos and site content.  

With more than 30 companies working diligently on this life changing technology the future is bright for automakers.  For us average joes the new technology promises to save many lives but also the loss of many future jobs. 

The Insurance Journal states that U.S. regulators are encouraging development of automated vehicle systems to reduce traffic accidents that annually kill more than 30,000 people. Regulatory and legal issues with self- driving cars, such as liability in accidents, have yet to be addressed.

Learn more about autonomous vehicles and the promising progress made by the major players, such as Tesla, Ford, GM, Google, Volvo and Uber: 

See BusinessInsider.com to discover the 7 self-driving car milestones to look out for in 2017.

For more details check out Driverless-Car Market Watch.

 

Autonomous Vehicles Will Decrease Deaths on U.S. Roadways

Autonomous vehicles will significantly decrease deaths on American roadways because mainly human vision is about 30 meters forward whereas the LIDAR system that are sensors that Google utilizes in the Google car can actually see a whopping 300 meters ahead.  Unfortunately, according to studies, humans are the main reason for more than 99% of all car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 38,000 Americans were killed on U.S. roads last year. Administrator, Mark Rosekind, from the NHTSA remarked, “That is unacceptable.”

Photo: Courtesy of Google

At the 2-day telematics conference in Detroit Rosekind’s comments to 3,000 representatives of automakers, technology companies, government agencies and insurers at the conference may be the latest signal that regulators aren’t expecting an accident-free future, just a reduction in the number of severe, deadly wrecks.

Autonomous vehicles will be mandatory and many regulations and standards must be put into place regarding the automotive industry, insurance and legal aspects that arise from accidents. http://goo.gl/TrNbSx

Speaking of accidents, a few weeks ago the first autonomous car crash killed a man when he was driving into fierce, bright sunlight and the software fatally failed and passed under a semi-truck. The car kept going after passing under the truck and crashed through 2 fences and into a light pole.  Tesla made a 537 word statement about the crash.

The first paragraph notes that this was Tesla’s first known autopilot death in some 130 million miles driven by its customers. “Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles,” the company then notes.  It goes on to say that the car’s autonomous software is designed to nudge consumers to keep their hands on the wheels to make sure they’re paying attention. “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert,” the company said. See more on Tesla’s statement here:  https://goo.gl/YqDJo9

Other test drivers of the Tesla have noticed issues when driving into bright sunlight.  The gentleman, Joshua Brown, who was driving that fateful day was someone who supported Tesla and posted many videos regarding his autonomous driving experiences. https://youtu.be/5TjbqVartjM

“As collisions in the future will be dealing with the failure in the design, manufacture and maintenance of vehicles, we can expect that the insurance industry will look to product liability and/or service failure, whether hardware- or software-related, not driver error, as the primary means to manage the risk of collisions,” Michael Teitelbaum, a partner Hughes Amys LLP, told seminar attendees during a subsequent panel discussion. http://goo.gl/i04dsd

There will also be legal ramifications regarding accidents that must be worked out and the legal experts still have many questions to ultimately come up with solutions.  To learn more about the insurance and legal ramifications click here.  

Autonomous Driving Steering the Future

Many automakers have recently released their concepts of autonomous cars.  We are astounded by the profound technology that make the autonomous cars a much safer form of driving and ultimately the most efficient driving that the world has ever known.  

We will present some fine details of a few of our favorite autonomous cars and touch on the trust factor.  How many drivers and passengers will truly be comfortable giving ultimate control to their cars?  The stats are in and there is much work to be done to prepare the population for a new way of driving.   

The Swedish auto maker, Volvo, recently reported that they plan to launch their version of self-driving splendor and convenience in 2017 with a goal of 100 vehicles due to drive Swedish byways. Until then we are allowed to take a peek inside one of the most amazing self-driving concepts that we have seen to date. 

Through a study Volvo estimates that people lose approximately 26 minutes of productivity during their daily commute.  The concept packs convenience and efficiency by sporting a driver side digital desktop, with a desktop table and a 25” mega monitor controlled to pop up on the passenger side from a central, front, console touch screen. 

“The system was the first autonomous concept interior placed on a workable platform.” Learn more about this amazing autonomous dream at Yahoo.com/autos.  To see many of the new self-driving concept cars in action around the world check out these awesome videos: https://goo.gl/PhhOJZ.

Now, regarding the trust factor: with new concepts of self-driving cars coming out every year we wondered how many people trust the technology? 

“A Pew report last year showed that less than 50 percent of people wanted to ride in a driverless car. While this is not an insignificant portion of the population, for car manufacturers to fully commit to producing autonomous cars, they clearly will need to work on winning the trust of over half the population. Both Google and Ford have publicly stated that 2020 is a realistic date for when fully autonomous cars will be seen on our roads.”

The leader in building trust in the minds of would be driverless drivers has been primarily Google through their ongoing testing of their cars in California in some of the most congested city driving in America.  They have a strong belief that autonomous vehicles are safer without human intervention.  

Their coaxing has obviously paid off well as a letter posted online in February 2016 stated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave its OK to the idea of a self-driving car without a steering wheel and so forth, that cannot be controlled by a human driver.  Discover more about the details of this very important decree by the NHTSA:  http://goo.gl/bTFNtt.

As we await 2020 we will be focusing on Google’s fleet of autonomous cars as they learn more about the many complicated driving scenarios that plague drivers every day.  Many people around the world have probably already heard about the Google Lexus-model autonomous vehicle ("Google AV") that hit a bus at slow speed last week.  The first to be partly the fault of a Google self-driving car.  No injuries reported, but, precisely why testing and constant tweaking of their autonomous software continues for several more years. Read more about this recent accident at endgadget.com.  

Lastly, as Google’s autonomous functional prototypes have cruised 1 million miles on the roads of California Google experts are continually discovering ways to perfect the genius software that make the future of self-driving cars most promising.  Until then we will keep dreaming of accident free driving that saves time and provides the best of technology without the wheel and worry. 

All about Google’s self-driving cars with monthly progress reports: https://www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/ 

 

 

Mercedes-Benz Self Driving Rave VAN!

How about a self driving Rave Van with Hologram technology? A cross between a limo and a luxury bus - what's next in the world of self-driving indulgence?  Only time will tell as new auto concepts of self driving vehicles continue to dazzle us with curiosity and anticipation for arrival! The Rave Van may be the most awesome concept that we have seen so far in this journey to self driving magnificence!  

Mercedes Benz Tokyo Concept - Self Driving Rave Van could literally be a game changer when it comes to enjoying the party on the road.  Nightclub ambiance will exude the interior and exterior of the van with an out of this world space age appearance.   The entertainment system will be completely controlled by 3D Holograms!  Soft glowing led lights will line the perforated seats. The front part of the van will offer cozy, spacious, convenience by simply stowing away the drivers seat while the worry free former driver entertains the guest.

How about the power behind the rave?  Hybrid hydrogen fuel-cell system drives the van to travel over 600 miles before refills with zero emissions.   To top it all off,  massive 26-inch wheels that spin around glowing wheel hubs will give this ride all the attention it will deserve.  

Vehicle Hackers Breach Automakers Cyber Dashboard Technology

cyber.technology.jpg

Do you know that hackers are able to control vehicles through the latest online systems equipped with cyber technology?   This is very concerning for many people.  Recently viewed a video from Wire.com that demonstrated how hackers can literally take control of a vehicle from a distant location through a computer.  The driver of the Jeep Cherokee in this particular scenario had no control and he was nearly run off the road.  Fortunately, some hackers do care and are willing to assist auto makers by revealing the tricks of their dangerous trade. 

You may ask:  what is being done by major auto makers to resolve this very serious issue?  Can it be completely resolved?  With such major safety implications Chrysler has issued a patch to secure their vehicles.  Fortune.com reported this month:  That the AAM,  An alliance of twelve automakers including Ford and General Motors said it will create a center for sharing information and analysis to help make cars more secure.”  The new ISAC hub will make it efficient for major automakers to transmit and share new security threats specifically targeting vehicle cyber systems as they come into the new hub. 

Fortunately, the major auto makers are on top of the threats and doing everything that they can to make the online systems in vehicles more secure.   Only time will tell if the security breaches hamper new vehicle sales.   One of our Twitter followers tweeted:  “Note to self, do not buy a new vehicle with online technology.” 

We understand the concerns and will keep you updated as automakers, technology firms and other related auto industry teams work together to make us all feel more secure as we travel with our online world at our fingertips. 

Technology & Transportation – How it will change our lives?

Technology is changing our lives in nearly every facet including the way we drive and for many who work in the transportation industry major changes and eliminations will eventually take place in industry positions.  Employees of various industries are concerned that their jobs could be replaced by driverless technology.  These concerns according to the technology industry are premature and Huffington Post who has followed the driverless cars story explains that the technology is inevitable and will replace jobs but it will be more like a marathon than a sprint in arriving.  Employees in the transportation industry have plenty of time to come up with a plan. 

With Tesla announcing its release of the autopilot function on their Electric Cars this summer we are speeding faster toward driverless cars on a personal level than most could have imagined.   Google announced that it will also be launching their driverless cars this summer in California.  Of course, “safety drivers” on board will be available to assist and the cars will be slowly moving along at 25mph. 

Photo:  Official Google Blog 

According to Google from a post on their blog:  “…and during this next phase of our project we’ll have safety drivers aboard with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed. We’re looking forward to learning how the community perceives and interacts with the vehicles, and to uncovering challenges that are unique to a fully self-driving vehicle—e.g., where it should stop if it can’t stop at its exact destination due to construction or congestion.”

In the meantime, as we await the driverless cars, hands free experience, to allow us the freedom to text, email, take conference calls and chat with our buddy on FB (hopefully without any legal limits) we have the Auto Industry offering new online capabilities in our vehicles with a touch of a finger at an app ready console. 

GMC and Buick are kicking off their 2016 models with many of the comforts of home and office.  Here are some of the latest inclusion of high tech in the auto industry one can celebrate in the coming year:

 “Apple CarPlay takes the iPhone features customers want to access while driving and puts them on the vehicle’s display in a smart, simple manner. This allows drivers to make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music right from the touchscreen or by voice via Siri. Apple CarPlay-supported apps include Phone, Messages, Maps, Music and compatible third-party apps. A full list of those apps can be found at Apple.com/ios/carplay. Apple CarPlay is compatible with iOS 7.1 or higher.

Android Auto is built around Google Maps, Google Now and the ability to talk to Google, as well as a growing audio and messaging app ecosystem that includes WhatsApp, Skype, Google Play Music, Spotify and podcast players. A full list of supported apps is available at g.co/androidauto. Android Auto requires a phone running an Android Lollipop 5.0 operating system or higher.” See Buick.com and GMC.com for more details.

Prepare yourself for the ultimate driving experience with the anticipation of driverless cars without limitation in using the technology that makes the world go round!