Tag Archives: self driving

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Self-Driving Cars – A Reality?

Like the Industrial Revolution of years gone by, we are on the cusp of another revolution that is set to change everything. The Automation Revolution has slowly been on its way for decades, but it is only now that we are finding uses for automated technology that are beyond factories. Human resources staff can use software to automate payroll and other tasks; we can develop scripts and macros to automate a lot of jobs on the computer. Logistics is also a field heavily impacted by automation as robotics help pack and dispatch goods. There are more examples of automation right now than before. That trend will carry on moving upwards as well.

How does this affect cars? Well – easily. Self-driving cars are becoming more commonplace in conversations taking place regarding automation and the future of driving. The near future as well – Lyft, one of the ride-hail apps that compete with Uber and others wants the majority of its trips to be in self-driving cars within four years. That’s not long away. Not at all.

As with anything remotely, new safety will always be a question and that’s true for self-driving cars as well. Tesla’s Model S was involved in a fatal crash that raised concerns over the true safety of driverless cars. However, that was during a test-phase, using prototype code with a prototype car, but still – these tests shouldn’t have life or death at the end of them! Technology isn’t perfect, and concerns over coding and glitches have been raised – especially so if a flaw with an automatic driverless car means a crash! The Tesla case was strange, as the driver was reported to have been watching a DVD at the time – but what we do know is that neither the car, nor the driver noticed the dangerous situation occurring. Truly a worry. It does look like anyone in possession of a driverless car will need to be ready to assume control at any point and any driver under the influence will still need one of the top DUI lawyers – any driver will still need to have their wits about them in a driverless car. Just in case…

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Google, on the other hand – are making massive advances with safe driverless cars. Tesla’s Elon Musk is arguing for self-driving cars to refuse to let humans take the wheel, as human error should be removed from driving. Google are taking a bit of a different approach. Google’s cars have been involved in accidents, but most of them have been due to other human drivers. It’s a strong point in favor of an AI chauffeur. By 2030 it is expected that self-driving vehicles will make up the majority of car sales in the United States. It will certainly reduce the amount of road traffic accidents, but unfortunately, they cannot be wiped out. Nearly all road collisions are caused by human error; this won’t happen if cars are not controlled by humans. However, will self-driving cars be totally safe? No – the road is dangerous, but self-driving cars will be a reality, and they will be safer.

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What Do Self-Driving Trucks Mean For The Freight Industry?

A couple of decades ago, self-driving vehicles were the stuff of science fiction; the kind of thing that’s only seen in over-the top, action-packed films. However, today, they’re getting very close to becoming a reality. While most companies experimenting with this technology are focussing on consumer passenger vehicles, one firm, Daimler, has begun testing for the first-driving semi-truck. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what this means for the company, and the trucking industry as a whole.

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Source: Pixabay

Although most of the news we see has been focussing on Google’s self-driving project, Daimler has been making considerable strides forward, and just might beat Google to their place in the market. Perfecting the technology for a self-driving freight truck is a marginally simpler affair, as long-haul trucks spend the majority of their time on long stretches of highway and freeway. As a result, Google’s struggling towards its target to release their self-driving vehicles by the year 2020, while Daimler’s Freightliner Inspiration truck has already been officially licensed to operate on public highways in Nevada, USA.

The initial reaction from many people who work in the long-haul and truck servicing industries has been one of panic. With self-driving trucks that are becoming so sophisticated so quickly, many in these sectors assume that their jobs are at risk. While it’s uncertain what this tech will mean for these kinds of jobs, it’s clear that self-driving trucks are far too valuable to turn back on themselves. In the US, heavy trucks represent around 20% of total transportation fuel, but self-driving trucks may be capable of reducing fuel bills by 4-7%. With most long-haul trucks travelling hundreds of thousands of miles through their useful life, this translates into thousands of dollars in savings for the industry every year! Regardless of what it means for workers, the money is simply too much to turn away from.

Daimler, in partnership with Peloton Technology, is leading the way in developing truck platoons that can further reduce the massive cost of fuel, and haul more freight at a time than was ever possible before. While a whole convoy of driverless trucks might sound pretty over the top, it’s technically very feasible. There would be a lead truck, with a single driver in the cab, whose job it would be to lead a convoy of twelve or so trucks along their route. Peloton’s platooning technology allows two or more trucks to connect through a cloud infrastructure, and uses safety features such as active braking, which is already something found in a range of consumer vehicles on the road. While the lead driver would have control over all the trucks in this model, drivers would still be needed to negotiate highway exits, tricky urban streets, and backing up into loading bays. While this is expected to help with the western world’s truck driver shortage, it’s still unclear if any working truckers will lose their jobs to driverless tech.

Self-driving cars still have a long way to go before they become a common sight on our roads, but self-driving trucks are speeding on towards mass production.

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Soon You Won’t Be Driving Your Car, It’ll Be Driving You

At this year’s CES we saw a veritable bevy of new, incredible technologies from a wide range of manufacturers. At this year’s Las Vegas tech fest, cars were not so much cars anymore, but rather high-performance smartphones on wheels.

Here are some of the highlights from the event.

The Year Of The Drag Racer

Websites like Custom-Transmissions.com  have been specializing in drag racing for many years. But this year two companies: Tesla and Faraday Future been battling to be the king of the drag race. Faraday futures new car, the FF 91, is incredible. At the show, they demoed the car which they claim has more than 1000 brake horsepower, distributed to all four wheels through two big electric motors. This gives the car the ability to do 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.4 seconds, faster than a Bugatti Veyron.

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Just last year, Tesla announced that the top of the range Model S could do 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds. It is clear that the upstart electric car maker, Faraday Future, wanted to steal some of Tesla’s thunder at the Consumer Electronics show this month. But not to be outdone, Tesla has since increased the performance of its car over 0 to 60 miles per hour, claiming that the new software update for the Tesla P100D allows the car to go from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.39 seconds.

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Wikimedia Commons

Hyundai Went Fully Autonomous On Us

The Hyundai Ioniq is the first family of cars from Hyundai to feature hybrid varieties, plug-in hybrid varieties, and electric only. However, at this year’s CES the Ioniq line was further enhanced by Hyundai showing off their new autonomous system for the range. The autonomous system comes with all of the usual features we have seen from the likes of Ford and Tesla, which Hyundai expects will allow the car to drive around California by itself in the next couple of years or so. At the show, guests were treated to the Ioniq driving around Las Vegas without a human pilot.

Renault Made Its Twizy Open Source

The Renault Twizy is a single-seater electric car designed for people who live in very busy urban centers, like Paris. It is also a very simple car which makes it perfect as a platform for open source software and hardware. Together with a company called iOSvehicle, Renault showcased one of its Twizy models which it claims is fully accessible and configurable by any company. They hope that the combination of advanced cockpit technology, autonomy, and the ability to connect to the Internet of things will make the Renault Twizy a platform for the future.

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Auto Renault Renault Twizy Small Twizy Mini

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In addition to the Twizy, Renault also introduced delegates at CES to the charging cable it has been developing with pilots, according to http://www.evo.co.uk/. The cable itself is electroluminescent, enabling it to flash and pulse when it is charging. Flashing is fastest when charging is in full swing and starts to slow down as the battery gets full.

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