Tag: cars

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

 

Changing Lanes Is Simple For Human Drivers. Not So For Autonomous Cars.

A driver sits engrossed in her laptop screen, catching up on emails as the car barrels down the highway. In the next lane, a father helps his kids finish homework while their vehicle swiftly changes lanes.

Nearby, an empty car returns home after dropping off its owner.—

These are the self-driving cars in which humans can be mindlessly commuting in as few as five years, some ambitious estimates claim.

It’s a highly disruptive technology that’s coming on a lot faster than people expect,” says Barrie Kirk, executive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence.

He helps governments and companies prepare for the advent of automated vehicles.

Many automakers and tech firms have already entered the driverless car manufacturing game. Now it’s a race to perfect the technology and start selling these Knight Rider-style vehicles.




Companies hype the cars as the best safety feature since seatbelts and airbags, but there’s a sense that phasing driverless cars onto public roads may be anything but a smooth transition.

Self-driving car advocates, like Kirk, believe in the technology’s potential to save thousands of lives.

Humans, generally, are poor drivers,” he says. He would like to see human drivers banned from roads to make room for an all-automated-vehicle world.

Drivers’ mistakes are responsible for more than 90 per cent of crashes, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found.

Kirk hopes automated vehicles can eliminate 80 per cent of such collisions — a number often cited by advocates.

In 2012, 2,077 people died in car crashes on Canadian roads, according to Transport Canada. If Kirk’s estimate holds, about 1,500 of those victims could have avoided an accident.

If you’re got a whole bunch of sensors that give you a 360-degree scan, 30 times a second,” he says, “humans can not come anywhere close to that.

There will be time to adjust before the new fleet of robot cars takes over roads.

We’re not going to be in a situation where we go from no automation to fully autonomous or self-driving vehicles,” says David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada.

Some people already own low-level autonomous vehicles, like ones that parallel park once the driver has properly aligned it. Some U.K. cities have started experimenting with low-speed self-driving shuttles on closed streets.

Even if safety is somewhat disputed, there are other potential benefits that can make the pursuit of these cars worth it.

Seniors, disabled people and others unable to drive will gain mobility. Families may need to own fewer cars if vehicles can travel empty to pick up and drop off family members.

Cities may require fewer parking spaces if cars can return home after dropping off owners.

But to see all those benefits and ensure safety isn’t compromised, these cars must be carefully brought into the public realm, says Shladover.

It has to be done in a sensible way.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

MIT Invented A Tool That Allows Driverless Cars To Navigate Rural Roads Without A Map

Google has spent the last 13 years mapping every corner and crevice of the world.

Car makers haven’t got nearly as long a lead time to perfect the maps that will keep driverless cars from sliding into ditches or hitting misplaced medians if they want to meet their optimistic deadlines.

This is especially true in rural areas where mapping efforts tend to come last due to smaller demand versus cities.

It’s also a more complicated task, due to a lack of infrastructure (i.e. curbs, barriers, and signage) that computers would normally use as reference points.

That’s why a student at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) is developing new technology, called MapLite, that eliminates the need for maps in self-driving car technology altogether.




This could more easily enable a fleet-sharing model that connects carless rural residents and would facilitate intercity trips that run through rural areas.

In a paper posted online on May 7 by CSAIL and project partner Toyota, 30-year-old PhD candidate Teddy Ort—along with co-authors Liam Paull and Daniela Rus—detail how using LIDAR and GPS together can enable self-driving cars to navigate on rural roads without having a detailed map to guide them.

The team was able to drive down a number of unpaved roads in rural Massachusetts and reliably scan the road for curves and obstacles up to 100 feet ahead, according to the paper.

Our method makes no assumptions about road markings and only minimal assumptions about road geometry,” wrote the authors in their paper.

Once the technology is perfected, proponents argue that autonomous cars could also help improve safety on rural roads by reducing the number of impaired and drowsy drivers, eliminating speeding, and detecting and reacting to obstacles even on pitch-black roads.

Ort’s algorithm isn’t commercializable yet; he hasn’t yet tested his algorithm in a wide variety of road conditions and elevations.

Still, if only from an economic perspective it’s clear repeatedly visually capturing millions of miles of roads to train cars how to drive autonomously isn’t going to be winning mapping technology for AVs; it’s just not feasible for most organizations.

Whether it’s Ort’s work, or end-to-end machine learning, or some other technology that wins the navigation race for autonomous vehicles, it’s important to remember that maps are first and foremost a visual tool to aid sighted people in figuring out where to go.

Like humans, a car may not necessarily need to “see” to get to where it’s going—it just needs to sharpen its other senses.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

A Self-driving Uber In Arizona Kills A Woman In First Fatal Crash Involving Pedestrian

An autonomous Uber car killed a woman in the street in Arizona, police said, in what appears to be the first reported fatal crash involving a self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian in the US.

Tempe police said the self-driving car was in autonomous mode at the time of the crash and that the vehicle hit a woman, who was walking outside of the crosswalk and later died at a hospital.

There was a vehicle operator inside the car at the time of the crash.

Uber said in a statement on Twitter: “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.” A spokesman declined to comment further on the crash.

The company said it was pausing its self-driving car operations in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.




Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, tweeted: “Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.

Uber has been testing its self-driving cars in numerous states and temporarily suspended its vehicles in Arizona last year after a crash involving one of its vehicles, a Volvo SUV.

When the company first began testing its self-driving cars in California in 2016, the vehicles were caught running red lights, leading to a high-profile dispute between state regulators and the San Francisco-based corporation.

Police identified the victim as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg and said she was walking outside of the crosswalk with a bicycle when she was hit at around 10pm on Sunday. Images from the scene showed a damaged bike.

The 2017 Volvo SUV was traveling at roughly 40 miles an hour, and it did not appear that the car slowed down as it approached the woman, said Tempe sergeant Ronald Elcock.

Elcock said he had watched footage of the collision, which has not been released to the public. He also identified the operator of the car as Rafael Vasquez, 44, and said he was cooperative and there were no signs of impairment.

The self-driving technology is supposed to detect pedestrians, cyclists and others and prevent crashes.

John M Simpson, privacy and technology project director with Consumer Watchdog, said the collision highlighted the need for tighter regulations of the nascent technology.

The robot cars cannot accurately predict human behavior, and the real problem comes in the interaction between humans and the robot vehicles,” said Simpson, whose advocacy group called for a national moratorium on autonomous car testing in the wake of the deadly collision.

Simpson said he was unaware of any previous fatal crashes involving an autonomous vehicle and a pedestrian.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

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