Tag Archives: self driving cars

Volkswagen’s Latest Project: The AI Car

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Volkswagen’s Latest Project: The AI Car

“The next three or four years will be decisive,” says Chief Digital Officer at Volkswagen Johann Jungwirth on the reinvention of the car.

At the CeBIT Global Conferences, he explained what VW is working on and what role artificial intelligence will play for the car of tomorrow.

Let’s start with what Jungwirth did NOT speak about at the Sakura Stage in Hall 8: alternative engines. That was it really. Instead, the Volkswagen CDO showed, in fast-forward, how the corporation is digitizing its core business. The key term here was artificial intelligence. “AI is everywhere and it will take on a central role in the car of the future,” states Jungwirth. No one expects it to replace humans, but to complement us where it can – in the dashboard, for example.

“Today you have to push seven or eight buttons before you find what you’re looking for on the in-car entertainment system. We want to reduce that number to one – if not zero.” With this, he means to say that our voices and gestures will come to control far more than just the sat nav. The car recognizes its driver’s expressions, mood, and destination. By monitoring location data and road behavior, the user experience adapts to each specific situation.

Self-Driving Cars Right to Your Door

“The engine used to represent the heart of a car, but the autonomous driving system will soon take over.” AI is of course central here as well. The self-driving car is expected to make transport safer, preventing over a million traffic-related deaths a year. It should make parking easier, too. According to Jungwirth, we waste a third of our time in cars looking for parking spots. The autonomous vehicle would solve this problem by dropping the passenger off at their front door before finding a place to park by itself. It could then be summoned back at the touch of a button.

And discussions on parking didn’t end there. Huge car parks have long been required in highly-developed cities. But Jungwirth claims that in a couple of years only a seventh of these will be necessary. This is because fewer people will be buying cars, with the preference shifting towards using them only on demand. “For 96 percent of the time, cars just sit there,” states Jungwirth. An autonomous shared vehicle would be almost permanently in motion, dropping one passenger off and immediately locating the next – like a self-driving taxi. VW is the first company to develop this kind of mobility concept – which it has given the working title “Sedric” (self-driving car).

Will it remain just a concept? Yes, most likely. But a whole host of Sedric-inspired ideas will undoubtedly become reality – perhaps even in the next three to four years.

Find out more about Sedric and the CeBIT Global Conferences .

Source: CeBIT

 

Germany, France agree on transnational self-driving test zone

In a bid to win the race to develop self-driving cars and give a leg-up to their automakers over their rivals from Silicon Valley, the two EU nations have joined hands to test the cars on a stretch of road linking them.

Daimler Trucks LKW autonomes Fahren (Daimler AG - Global Communications Commercial Vehicles)

European neighbors Germany and France plan to test self-driving vehicles on a section of road linking the two countries, the transport ministry in Berlin said Wednesday.

The route stretches around 70 kilometers (43 miles), from Merzig in Germany’s western Saarland state to Metz in eastern France. It is aimed at testing “automated and connected driving in real cross-border traffic,” the ministry noted.

“Manufacturers will be able to test the connectivity of their systems, for example when lanes or speed limits change at the border,” German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said in a statement following a meeting with his French counterpart Alain Vidalies.

“We want to set worldwide standards for this key technology through cooperation between Europe’s two biggest car-producing countries,” he added.

The route will allow testing of 5G wireless communications between cars and infrastructure, automated maneuvers such as overtaking and braking, and emergency warning and call systems, among others.

An automated future?

Germany, home to car giants such as Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, already boasts a number of test zones for automated vehicles on motorways and in cities, but this is the first that will cross into another country.

The transport ministry has offered 100 million euros ($107 million) in funding for the projects.

The tests come as the nation’s traditional carmakers are racing to catch up to Silicon Valley newcomers such as Tesla, Uber and Google parent company Alphabet in the new field, seen as the future of driving.

Automated trucks in particular are expected to shake up the road transport sector in the years to come.

In a glimpse of what lies ahead, manufacturers took part in an experiment last year that saw six convoys of “smart” trucks cross several European countries using “platooning,” in which a leading truck sets the route and speed for wirelessly-connected self-driving followers.

sri/uhe (AFP, Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure)

Source: Deutsche Welle

When will we see driverless cars on UK roads? Lords to investigate

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The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will continue its inquiry investigating driverless vehicles on Tuesday 8 November. The Committee will hear evidence from European Officials and industry experts.

This session provides an opportunity for the Committee to hear from representatives from three driverless car trials in Greenwich, Bristol and Milton Keynes. The Committee will be able to explore the progress being made by the trials and the issues they have highlighted relating to the deployment and regulation of driverless cars as well as social and behavioural issues.

The Committee will also examine the extent to which the UK will have to align itself with future international regulation for self-driving vehicles in areas such as cyber-security and data handling and will assess what progress has been made in European and global regulation of autonomous vehicles.

At 10:40am the Committee will hear from:

  • Ms Claire Depré, Head of Sustainable & Intelligent Transport Unit, DG Transport and Mobility
  • Dr Hermann Meyer, CEO, ERTICO –EUROPE
  • Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders

The Committee are likely to ask:

  • What can European organisations deliver that individual Member States or organisations cannot deliver on their own?
  • What ways is it possible to avoid a situation where European countries have their own individual approach to cybersecurity and privacy requirements for highly autonomous vehicles?
  • To what extent can the UK devise its own regulations and standards?

At 11:40am the Committee will hear from:

  • Professor Nick Reed, Greenwich Automated Transport Environment
  • John McCarthy, Bristol Driverless Cars Project
  • Brian Matthews, Head of Transport Innovation, Milton Keynes Council

The Committee are likely to ask:

  • Are you demonstrating a scientific or engineering process or testing elements of a system to be deployed?
  • Has there been modelling or simulation of deployment on a network of a mixed fleet of non-highly and fully-automated vehicles?
  • Can these new types of vehicle operate safely, efficiently and effectively on current infrastructure or will there have to be significant new infrastructure investment?

The evidence session will take place in Committee room 4A on Tuesday 8 November in the House of Lords at 10:30am.

Source: UK Parliment

Autonomous cars expected to hit 24 million units by 2030, says Berg Insight

(c)iStock.com/chombosan

A new research report from Berg Insight says the first autonomous cars will debut in 2020, and predicts that the total number of new registrations of autonomous cars will grow at a CAGR of 62% from 0.2 million units in 2020 to reach 24 million units in 2030.

As the analyst firm explains, cars are among the costliest as well as one of the most inefficiently used assets today, but when operated around the clock on a service based business model can results in a tremendous potential increase of their utilisation rate. Moreover, autonomous cars will potentially improve the quality of life for the people who are unable to drive, reduce the number of fatalities and accidents in road traffic and increase overall traffic efficiency.

That’s the theory, at any rate. The research notes that the active installed base of autonomous cars is estimated to have reached about 71 million at the end of 2030, including SAE Level 3 and 4 cars.

The report states that the key to the development of self-driving cars lies in the software that will interpret sensor information and manage the driving logic. In order to further develop the autonomous technology, many new actors such as IT firms and other technology-oriented companies have joined incumbent automakers who have already initiated projects to develop self-driving features in their cars.

Ludvig Barrehag, M2M/IoT analyst at Berg Insight, said: “These pathways do not contradict each other as different autonomous systems are suitable in different use cases. We will continue to see development from both sides for still some years before the two approaches converge.”

Source: Connected Car/Berg Insight

BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye Team Up to Bring Fully Autonomous Driving to Streets by 2021

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Fleets of fully autonomous cars as basis for new mobility services in urban environments +++ BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye are creating an open platform for the next generation of cars to create the safest autonomous platform, from door locks to the datacenter +++ The three companies share a common vision and goal, to align the industry on a standards-based platform to quickly bring autonomous vehicles to market

 BMW Group, Intel, and Mobileye are joining forces to make self-driving vehicles and future mobility concepts become a reality. The three leaders from the automotive, technology and computer vision and machine learning industries are collaborating to bring solutions for highly and fully automated driving into series production by 2021.

The future of automated driving promises to change lives and societies for the better. But the path to get to a fully autonomous world is complex and will require end-to-end solutions that integrate intelligence across the network, from door locks to the data center. Transportation providers of the future must harness rapidly evolving technologies, collaborate with totally new partners, and prepare for disruptive opportunities.

Together with Intel and Mobileye, the BMW Group will develop the necessary solutions and innovative systems for highly and fully automated driving to bring these technologies into series production by 2021. The BMW iNEXT model will be the foundation for BMW Group’s autonomous driving strategy and set the basis for fleets of fully autonomous vehicles, not only on highways but also in urban environments for the purpose of automated ridesharing solutions.

BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye are convinced that automated driving technologies will make travel safer and easier. The goal of the collaboration is to develop future-proofed solutions that enable the drivers to not only take their hands off the steering wheel, but reach the so called “eyes off” (level 3) and ultimately the “mind off” (level 4) level transforming the driver’s in-car time into leisure or work time. This level of autonomy would enable the vehicle, on a technical level, to achieve the final stage of traveling “driver off” (level 5) without a human driver inside. This establishes the opportunity for self-driving fleets by 2021 and lays the foundation for entirely new business models in a connected, mobile world.

On July 1, 2016, the three partners were present at the BMW Group Headquarters in Munich to express their commitment to strive for an industry standard and define an open platform for autonomous driving. The common platform will address level 3 to level 5 automated driving and will be made available to multiple car vendors and other industries who could benefit from autonomous machines and deep machine learning.

The companies have agreed to a set of deliverables and milestones to deliver fully autonomous cars based on a common reference architecture. Near term, the companies will demonstrate an autonomous test drive with a highly automated driving (HAD) prototype. In 2017 the platform will extend to fleets with extended autonomous test drives.

“Today marks an important milestone for the automotive industry as we enter a world of new mobility. Together with BMW Group and Intel, Mobileye is laying the groundwork for the technology of future mobility that enables fully autonomous driving to become a reality within the next few years,” said Mobileye Co-Founder, Chairman and CTO Professor Amnon Shashua.

“Mobileye is proud to contribute our expertise in sensing, localization, and driver policy to enable fully autonomous driving in this cooperation. The processing of sensing, like our capabilities to understand the driving scene through a single camera already, will be deployed on Mobileye’s latest system-on-chip, the EyeQ®5, and the collaborative development of fusion algorithms will be deployed on Intel computing platforms. In addition, Mobileye Road Experience Management (REM) technology will provide real-time precise localization and model the driving scene to essentially support fully autonomous driving.”

Intel brings a comprehensive portfolio of technology to power and connect billions of smart and connected devices, including cars. To handle the complex workloads required for autonomous cars in urban environments Intel provides the compute power that scales from Intel® Atom™ to Intel® Xeon™ processors delivering up to a total of 100 teraflops of power efficient performance without having to rewrite code.

“Highly autonomous cars and everything they connect to will require powerful and reliable electronic brains to make them smart enough to navigate traffic and avoid accidents,” saidIntel CEO Brian Krzanich. “This partnership between BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will help us to quickly deliver on our vision to reinvent the driving experience. We bring a broad set of in-vehicle and cloud computing, connectivity, safety and security, and machine-learning assets to this collaboration enabling a truly end to end solution.”

With its Strategy Number ONE > NEXT, the BMW Group has developed its framework to remain the driving force behind premium individual mobility. This approach will become driving reality with the BMW iNEXT model in 2021, heralding a new era of mobility.

“At the BMW Group we always strive for technological leadership. This partnership underscores our Strategy Number ONE > NEXT to shape the individual mobility of the future,” stated Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “Following our investment in high definition live map technology at HERE, the combined expertise of Intel, Mobileye and the BMW Group will deliver the next core building block to bring fully automated driving technology to the street. We have already showcased such groundbreaking solutions in our VISION NEXT 100 vehicle concepts. With this technological leap forward, we are offering our customers a whole new level of sheer driving pleasure whilst pioneering new concepts for premium mobility.”

Source: BMW Group

Google ready to send prototype autonomous cars on to Californian streets this summer

Official Google Blog: Green lights for our self-driving vehicle prototypes

Green lights for our self-driving vehicle prototypes.

When we started designing the world’s first fully self-driving vehicle, our goal was a vehicle that could shoulder the entire burden of driving. Vehicles that can take anyone from A to B at the push of a button could transform mobility for millions of people, whether by reducing the 94 percent of accidents caused by human error (PDF), reclaiming the billions of hours wasted in traffic, or bringing everyday destinations and new opportunities within reach of those who might otherwise be excluded by their inability to drive a car.

Now we’re announcing the next step for our project: this summer, a few of the prototype vehicles we’ve created will leave the test track and hit the familiar roads of Mountain View, Calif., with our safety drivers aboard.

Our safety drivers will test fully self-driving vehicle prototypes like this one on the streets of Mountain View, Calif., this summer.

We’ve been running the vehicles through rigorous testing at our test facilities, and ensuring our software and sensors work as they’re supposed to on this new vehicle. The new prototypes will drive with the same software that our existing fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs uses. That fleet has logged nearly a million autonomous miles on the roads since we started the project, and recently has been self-driving about 10,000 miles a week. So the new prototypes already have lots of experience to draw on—in fact, it’s the equivalent of about 75 years of typical American adult driving experience.

Each prototype’s speed is capped at a neighborhood-friendly 25mph, 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 coming years, we’d like to run small pilot programs with our prototypes to learn what people would like to do with vehicles like this. If you’d like to follow updates about the project and share your thoughts, please join us on our Google+ page. See you on the road!

See the video here>
Source: Chris Urmson, Director, Google Self-Driving Car Project. Official Blog

Super highway: A14 to become Britain’s first internet-connected road

Technology on busy road connecting Birmingham and Felixstowe could pave way for self-driving cars

  • Motorway
Sensors along a 50-mile stretch of the A14 will monitor traffic by sending signals to and from mobile phones in vehicles.
 
 
One of the UK’s most congested highways, connecting the busy container port at Felixstowe to Birmingham, is to become Britain’s first internet-connected road in a pilot project that could pave the way for everything from tolls to self-driving cars.

A network of sensors will be placed along a 50-mile stretch of the A14 in a collaboration between BT, the Department for Transport and the Cambridge start-up Neul, creating a smart road which can monitor traffic by sending signals to and from mobile phones in moving vehicles.

The technology, which sends signals over the white spaces between television channels instead of mobile phone networks, could even pave the way for government systems to automatically control car speeds.

The telecoms watchdog Ofcom, which on Wednesday approved the project as part of its new blueprint for how Britain will use spectrum, is already forecasting what high technology traffic systems will look like.

“Sensors in cars and on the roads monitor the build-up of congestions and wirelessly send this information to a central traffic control system, which automatically imposes variable speed limits that smooth the flow of traffic,” Ofcom said. “This system could also communicate directly with cars, directing them along diverted routes to avoid the congestion and even managing their speed.”

Onboard computers could essentially override the driver, imposing maximum speeds on the vehicle by controlling the brakes and the engine. While the concept may sound futuristic, Google is already developing a computer-driven car, which uses cameras, radar, and range finders to detect obstacles and other vehicles. The Google smart car has been extensively tested on public highways and smart roads lined with sensors.

The A14 project will not involve smart cars, but is a first step in building the infrastructure such vehicles will need. It could also lay the ground for charging motorists to use busy roads.

The Highways Agency is proposing a £1.5bn improvement to the A14 which would be paid for by a toll, with lorries paying up to £3 to use the improved route. The BT’s sensor project could help design the toll and the road improvements. The project will initially gather information on car drivers before moving on to collect information on heavy goods vehicles. The information will be sent back to a database to which the Department for Transport will have access.

“Understanding traffic patterns, in different weather conditions at different times of day, will allow changes to traffic regulation,” said Stan Boland, chief executive of Neul. “In the future it might provide data that could be used for road pricing, vehicle tracking, and breakdown.”

Within one or two years, Boland believes the UK will have national, regional and city-wide networks of sensors, connected to simple tracking devices monitoring everything from whether council bins need emptying and which parking spaces are free to the location of missing pets.

While traffic data is already gathered by companies such as the satnav maker TomTom, using mobile phone networks, the A14 project offers a low-cost alternative. Instead of relying on mobile masts, which costs tens of thousands to install, Neul will use small base stations that cost a few pounds and can be fixed to street lamps or, in the case of the A14, the outside of nearby BT exchanges.

The project is one of a series approved by Ofcom to explore white space, which is currently used by cameras and microphones for films, theatres and live events but in many areas lies empty. In Glasgow, where consumer take-up of broadband is among the lowest in the country, Microsoft will be using the spectrum to install free wifi in the city centre. Working with the University of Strathclyde, the software group will install sensors around the city to measure pollution and humidity.

White space is also useful for getting broadband signals into rural areas, because it travels longer distances and through obstacles such as leaves and trees. On the Isle of Wight, an Ofcom-approved trial will get remote homes online.

Google is also taking part as one of a number of companies developing intelligent databases that could eventually allow smartphones and tablets to use white space to connect to the internet instead as an alternative to mobile signals.

The databases will tell devices which bands are empty in their local area, and at what power level the signal can safely operate without interfering with nearby users. Demand for data over wireless devices is forecast to be 80 times higher than it is today by 2030, and Ofcom is bent on increasing the amount of spectrum available to connect machines ranging from computers to parking meter sensors to the internet.

Source: The Guardian