Who’s Driving Us? : The Beginning
Self driving cars were always a thing of science fiction and something dreamed up from watching the Jetsons and other various futuristic shows of the past. For me the first discussions about Google testing the “cars that drive themselves” was still a bit of science fiction and hard to visualize as something feasible for the modern driver. No; for me the first time I really began realizing that autonomous transportation was within reach is from a series of videos shot during keynote presentation on self-driving cars at IROS 2011 by Sebastian Thrun and Chris Urmson. In the videos we see the advanced technologies controlling the various progression of test vehicles and the ways they use artificial rationale to make thousands of decisions that we make every day when piloting our cars. The advancements made from the first off-road test vehicles to urban cars that can navigate the various challenges of traffic and sporadic drivers are something to behold. They show that the time is coming when we can lean back to read the news and have a cup of coffee whilst in the middle of our morning commute. Watch the three part video series below and give your comments and let us know the first time you may have realized that we need to start asking ourselves “Who’s Driving Us?” as the future rapidly approaches.
“We are entering uncharted territory in the field of autonomous driving,” says Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Car Group. “Taking the exciting step to a public pilot, with the ambition to enable ordinary people to sit behind the wheel in normal traffic on public roads, has never been done before.”
Google Enters the Car Business; Forgets Steering Wheel
Google has finally showed their first self-driving, self made, vehicle used for testing purposes that has been created in house. This new Smart-car-with-a-face will be used instead of the Toyota and Lexus vehicles they have used in the past to further develop the . The new vehicle has a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour and is missing one important element – the steering wheel. This new vehicle was designed for comfort and safety for all the various passengers displayed in the video including your dog, your grandparents, your token blind driver, and whoever would like to travel at slow speeds with ease.
California Releases Rules for Autonomous Vehicle Driving
Google has been testing its self-driven vehicles around the San Francisco area for some time now and has helped the State of California to be at the forefront of creating regulations for operation of automated cars. Today the State has published its new vehicle code to handle the regulation of automated vehicles for manufacturer testing. The California DMV website states that the “DMV conducted two public workshops in 2013 related to developing regulations for testing of autonomous vehicles. The proposed regulations were then published in the Office of Administrative Law’s California Regulatory Notice Register on November 29, 2013.
Volvo’s Self-Driving S60
Volvo has always been at the forefront of safety and technology. Back in 2010 we had the opportunity to test the – then new – Volvo S60 and see examples of its crash avoidance technology. They were one of the first in the industry to make strides in a decent pedestrian avoidance and crash detection radar and have continued using that tech to migrate into the self driving era. The team at Cnet recently had the chance to take the self-driving S60 through the paces and find out more about the goals and development from the Volvo team in Sweden.
Ford : A Different Path to Automated Vehicles
Ford has been less active in news surrounding vehicle automation lately but the Vice President, Raj Nair, is speaking out on their vision of the future. Ford is taking an approach that it considers to be building blocks towards a fully automated car but these “building blocks” look to give the driver benefits of the technology long before the legislation and various barriers for fully automated driving arrive. “..let’s define what we mean by automated,” said Vice President Raj Nair. “What we do not mean is a driverless car … this Fusion hybrid is capable of automated operation under the supervision of a human driver.”
BMW at CES : The Self-Driving Drift
So BMW also came out to Las Vegas touting their innovations for a more automated vehicles and presented a video of an automated car on a track. Not only could the car throw itself through the corners, but the video also features a powerslide through a wet track to show the dynamics of their automated system. Checkout the video and read some highlights from the press release describing their intentions with the Connected Drive program and the future of automation.
Audi rolled out a self driving A7 onto the conference floor this evening and spent the time discussing the prototype period for “piloted driving” Is almost over.
Ed Welburn of General Motors on Automated Vehicle Design
Recently at the Los Angeles Auto Show we were able to sit down with General Motor’s Vice President of Global Design, Ed Welburn. In addition to sharing his view for the “New” GM since bankruptcy, Ed also answered a question we had regarding the possibility of a “designer’s fear of automated vehicles.” Several design students we have talked to have a general fear for the idea of automated cars and believe the market will simply want an “appliance” that is void of character. The automobile as we know it may some day change into floating boxes that merely move people from place to place and lack any true emotion.
When this question was proposed Ed responded to say “How many times in the auto industry has it been said, this will be the end of design?” and gives the example of the safety bumper regulations and how that challenge was overcome by designers at the time. Welburn believes that the when autonomous vehicles are at a level playing field in terms of similar technology for automakers, design will still determine what draws the consumers into the automobile.
This stands to reason as now we have so many contributing features for a car in which a user chooses what car to purchase including horsepower, handling, top speed, and several more that will no longer apply once autonomous cars are the norm. Once you remove driving characteristics from the shopping list then you may look more to comfort amenities and design of the interior and exterior.
Connected Car Critical Dialogue: Technology Takes the Wheel – Our Autonomous Driving
We were able to get an audio clip of the discussion panel from the Connected Car Expo. Feel free to discuss your thoughts and opinions in the thread below.
The discussion on self-driving cars has shifted from “if” to “when” in just a few years, as innovation from both inside and outside of the auto industry is quickly accelerating personal transportation towards an autonomous-car future. We bring together key players from Google, automotive supplier Continental and the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS) to explore when we can expect to let go of the wheel and where self-driving technology will take us.
Moderator: Joseph White, Global Auto Editor, The Wall Street Journal
Panelists: Ron Medford, Director of Safety for Self-Driving Cars, Google
Jeff Klei, President, NAFTA Region, Continental North America
Sven Beiker, Executive Director, Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University.