Archives For robot

2012-07-24 16.00.48-1Robot cars will probably take control over your car whether you want it to or not.

Actually, robots will take over the world whether or not we want it. And I’m not saying that because I’ve watched Terminator too many times.

Computer scientists pretty much take this as a given. And it starts with technology like this.

We’re talking about automated intersection controllers. Sure, sounds like a great idea for improved road safety and traffic efficiency, but isn’t this why man created trains?

Maybe that’s the future of cars, each one like a train compartment.

See how the robo-cars will work here.

Related post: More evidence that robots are poised to take control!

A high school student from Texas won a $100,000 science scholarship for developing a computer algorithm that helps robots avoid obstacles.

One of the applications for this? Driverless cars, of course!

Handout photo from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.

The company that tries to do no harm even as it tries to do it all has made great progress on a self-driving car.

It even drives some Google employees to work. And California is set to legalize these autonomous autos.

The only real hurdle appears to be — you guessed it, cost! As in hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more than those uber-rich guys that you’re super-jealous of pay for a Ferrari).

So … apparently your robot-driven car of the future is gonna cost you a pretty penny.

The array of sensor technology needed for the cars to work costs about $250,000 dollars, according to The Business Insider. That’s just the technology, if you toss in the price of the Lexus RX45oh cars, which the search giant is modifying to fit the need, and throw in a few custom components — you’re suddenly looking at a car that’s running you well more than $300,000!

This is the part where you ask yourself, how badly do you want that car? If it’s worth any opportunity cost, better start saving up now and get it before they add MORE high-tech expenses! I mean it’s already more expensive than a Ferrari, get it while you got a chance!

That said, maybe the driverless car will debut like any other trendy high-tech item on the open market, and the price will fall down to levels that average drivers can even begin to afford over time.

Read more about the driverless machine that will leave you penniless from The Business Insider below:

Google’s Self-Driving Cars May Cost More Than A Ferrari (GOOG)

Handout photo from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.

People seem to have very mixed feelings on all of this talk about driverless cars — some are very reluctant to give up the wheel and others are genuinely excited to hand the reigns over to a robot.

However, there’s one major obstacle that will keep these robot-driven cars from achieving their true potential.

The horrendous current state of U.S. roads!

A recent piece in The Wall Street Journal discusses how badly U.S. highways need to be revamped to accommodate driverless or “autonomous” cars:

The driverless car represents one of the most amazing breakthroughs in safety and quality of life in recent history. Instead of focusing on enormously expensive high-speed rail as our transportation future, the government would do well to stop hindering driverless cars by its obsolete thinking about our nation’s roads.

It seems like a no-brainer, you can imagine that with an innovation such as this, the auto manufacturers would be ready WAY before state highway departments.

The article, written by Brookings Institution scholar Clifford Winston, says that car manufacturers “have made one technological improvement after another since the car was introduced to consumers more than a century ago” — but the roads, streets and highways are another story completely.

“Unfortunately, the paved systems on which cars travel have not advanced much in comparison,” Winston writes. “Without reimagining the way we design and maintain highways, the driverless car will achieve little of its potential.”

Uh oh!

Researchers project that getting the robot-driven cars out on the roads will dramatically decrease car accidents caused by human error. The vehicles sweep up info on nearby cars from short-range transmitters at a rate of 10 times per second — which helps them react much more rapidly than human drivers.

If upgrades were tackled competently and with urgency (a big if), the new tech could revolutionize U.S. roads and highways. Winston says:

Driverless cars don’t need the same wide lanes, which would allow highway authorities to reconfigure roads to allow travel speeds to be raised during peak travel periods. All that is needed would be illuminated lane dividers that can increase the number of lanes available. Driverless cars could take advantage of the extra lane capacity to reduce congestion and delays. …

The smaller volume of trucks could be handled with one or two wide lanes with a road surface about a foot thick, to withstand trucks’ weight and axle pressure. But the much larger volume of cars — which apply much less axle pressure that damages pavement — need more and narrower lanes that are only a few inches thick. Building highways that separate cars and trucks by directing them to lanes with the appropriate thickness would save taxpayers a bundle.

Well, let’s face it, saving taxpayers “a bundle” has never been one of the U.S. government’s defining attributes …

See Also: Opinion: Paving The Way for Driverless Cars

See Also: Forget Driverless Cars … Flying With a Robot Pilot?

See Also: Seriously … When Police Pull Over a Driverless Car, Who Gets the Ticket?

See Also: 2017? 2020??? Lots of Dates … When Will We Have Driverless Cars?

OK, the driverless car is maybe going to really exist at some time in the near future — and insurance companies are scrambling to get up to speed.

In fact, insurers, lawmakers and car manufacturers are all starting to maneuver, assuming that this is going to be something other than the hovering skateboard in Back to the Future II.

An interesting new post from The Esurance Blog, discusses how insurers are working to figure out whether two different policies will be needed: one for when the human is at the wheel and one for when the robot driver has taken over.

The post also discusses how many car manufacturers are now sprinting to outpace Google on the developing technology, how Nevada has licensed driverless vehicles and other states (like, oh, California!) are moving to do the same.

Watchdog Group Says We Are Google’s Product, Don’t Allow Driverless Cars Without …

Consumer Watchdog came out swinging last week, writing a letter to the California Assembly’s Transportation Committee that urged lawmakers not to allow driverless cars on the state’s roads without strong new privacy protections for consumers.

The committee held a hearing last week on new legislation aimed at green-lighting driverless cars and Consumer Watchdog urged them not to give the OK without more restrictions.

The watchdog group said that it agreed with the concept of driverless cars and what robot drivers could do for safety — but also called Internet companies out of control and claimed that Google is going to go sweep up gobs of unauthorized consumer data from its driverless vehicles.

The letter said: “Google’s entire business model is based on building digital dossiers about our personal behavior and using them to sell the most personal advertising to us. You’re not Google’s customer; you are its product – the one it sells to corporations willing to pay any price to reach you. Will the driverless technology be just about getting us from point to point or about tracking how we got there and what we did along the way?”

Read the full text of the group’s letter here (pdf).

Still ‘Getting the Technology Right’

Sill interested? Get your answers from the horse’s mouth.

Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Google X (which is behind driverless cars and a lot more), took part in a recent Reddit town hall Q&A session.

When asked how long before we’re all riding around in robot-driven cars, Thrun told the forum:

“I wish I had a crystal ball. We are still focusing on getting the technology right.”