Tag: cars

GM Will Launch Robocars Without Steering Wheels Next Year

The future of driving doesn’t involve driving — at all.

That’s the big takeaway from a first peek inside General Motors new autonomous car, which lacks the steering wheel, pedals, manual controls and human drivers that have come to define the experience of riding inside an automobile for more than a century.

The means the Cruise AV — a fourth-generation autonomous vehicle based on the Chevy Bolt EV — is in total control.

GM submitted a petition Thursday to the Department of Transportation, asking for the government to let it roll out the new vehicle, which it says is safe.

GM plans to mass produce the vehicle as early as next year, the automotive giant announced Friday.

The manufacturer is touting the vehicle as the world’s “first production-ready vehicle” built with the sole purpose of operating “safely on its own with no driver,” a degree of independence known as “level 4 autonomy.”

GM is one of several companies testing level 4 vehicles. A California-based autonomous vehicle startup called Zoox and Alphabet’s Waymo have also tested level 4 cars.

GM is already testing second and third generation self-driving Cruise AVs on busy streets in San Francisco and Phoenix with a human engineer in the vehicle.

It relies on cameras, radar and high-precision laser sensors known as lidar for navigation.

Beginning in 2019, the fourth-generation of that vehicle will be used in a ride-sharing program in multiple American cities, where “the vehicles will travel on a fixed route controlled by their mapping system,” Bloomberg reported.

To improve safety, the vehicles will share information with one another and rely on two computer systems, which operate simultaneously so that if one computer encounters a problem, the second computer can serve as a backup, according to GM’s self-driving safety report.

The report says the Cruise AV was designed to operate in chaotic, fluid conditions, such as aggressive drivers, jaywalkers, bicyclists, delivery trucks and construction.

The company has access to vast dealership networks, nationwide influence and manufacturing prowess, potentially offering a GM-driven ride-hailing service the opportunity to supplant the Silicon Valley start-ups that have been seeking for years to disrupt the auto industry.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

First Wattway Solar Road Pilot In US Pops Up In Rural Georgia

The first Wattway solar road pilot in America has popped up in rural west Georgia.

The Ray C. Anderson Foundation, named for sustainable manufacturing pioneer Ray Anderson, is testing renewable technologies along an 18-mile stretch of road, and recently installed 538 square feet of Colas‘ Wattway solar road system near the border between Georgia and Alabama.

Part of Georgia’s Interstate 85 was named for Anderson, but as over five million tons of carbon dioxide are emitted yearly on that road portion alone.

Anderson’s family felt placing his name there didn’t honor his legacy, and began to look into renewable technologies to clear the air – so to speak.

Thus began The Ray, an 18-mile living laboratory for clean technologies, including not only the solar roads, but also a solar-powered electric vehicle charging station, and WheelRight, a system people can drive over to test their tire pressure, which could lead to improved fuel inefficiency.

The first Wattway solar panel pilot is part of The Ray near a Georgia Visitor Information Center in West Point, Georgia.

According to Wattway by Colas, the average expected output for the 538-square-meter pilot is anticipated to be 7,000 kilowatt-hours per year, which will help power the center.

And these technologies are just the beginning. The foundation will also construct bioswales, or shallow drainage ditches filled with native Georgia plants to capture pollutants during rain.

In a right-of-way space, they’ll build a one megawatt solar installation. They’re working with the Georgia Department of Transportation to bring such ideas to life along the 18-mile road stretch.

Not only will several of their projects beautify the highway, but will generate clean energy and bring in money for investors. And other parts of the state have shown interest in building their own Wattway roads.

The Ray executive director Allie Kelly dreams of a day when highways will “serve as a power grid for the future,” but she believes that day is coming sooner than we may think.

She told Curbed, “We’re at a tipping point in transportation. In five to ten years, we won’t remember a time when we invested a dime in infrastructure spending for a road that only did one thing.”

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Pass it on: Popular Science

GM Faces Lawsuit Over Self-Driving Car Collision

Self-driving car manufacturers dread lawsuits over crashes due to questions of liability, and GM is about to learn just how problematic they can be.

Oscar Nilsson has sued GM after a December collision between his motorcycle and one of the company’s self-driving Chevy Bolts.

According to his version of events, he was trailing the Bolt when it started changing lanes.

He tried to pass the autonomous car, but it “suddenly” swerved back into his lane, knocking him to the ground and injuring both his neck and shoulder.

GM, not surprisingly, disagreed with the interpretation in a statement.

It pointed to the San Francisco Police Department’s collision report, which didn’t lay blame but said that Nilsson merged into the Bolt’s lane “before it was safe to do so.

There have certainly been disputes over the involvement of self-driving technology in crashes — just ask Tesla.

Those incidents involved semi-autonomous cars where the human driver was always expected to share some responsibility, though, rather than fully autonomous vehicles where a human only serves as backup.

And that makes cases like this problematic. If GM bears any responsibility at all, was it the fault of the developers, or the backup driver for not spotting the abrupt move?

The lawsuit won’t completely settle the question, but it may lay the groundwork for future suits.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Charging Your Phone While Moving Around? Be Amazed By This Wireless Gadget Charger!

Scientists at Stanford University in the US have developed a device that can wirelessly charge a moving object at close range.

The technology could one day be used to charge electric cars on the highway, or medical implants and cellphones as you walk nearby.

“In addition to advancing the wireless charging of vehicles and personal devices like cellphones, our new technology may untether robotics in manufacturing, which also are on the move,” said Professor Shanhui Fan.

According to the study, published in the journal Nature, wireless charging would address a major drawback of plug-in electric cars their limited driving range. A charge-as-you-drive system would overcome these limitations.

“We can rethink how to deliver electricity not only to our cars but to smaller devices on or in our bodies. For anything that could benefit from dynamic, wireless charging, this is potentially very important,” Fan said.

The team transmitted electricity wirelessly to a moving LED light bulb but the demonstration only involved a one milliwatt charge, far less than what electric cars require.

The scientists are now working on greatly increasing the amount of electricity that can be transferred, and tweaking the system to extend the transfer distance and improve efficiency.

According to the research, the transfer efficiency can be further enhanced if both coils are tuned to the same magnetic resonance frequency and are positioned at the correct angle, but scientists found that was a complex process.

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Pass it on: New Scientist