Feds ready to tell California DMV to drop self-driving car rules

9 September 2017 by Steve Blum
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The U.S. congress isn’t completely gridlocked, at least not where self-driving cars are concerned. This week, the U.S. house of representatives passed a bill – with a whopping bipartisan majority – that would put the federal transportation department in charge of setting standards for autonomous vehicles, and determining whether or not any particular design is safe to operate on open roads, anywhere in the country. If it makes it into law – it still has to be approved by the U.S.… More

Cities need to get out in front of self driving cars, League of Cities says

3 June 2017 by Steve Blum
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Broadband availability and self-driving cars are thoroughly linked issues for local governments, according to a white paper on autonomous vehicle policy published by the National League of Cities. Sitting back and letting telecoms providers – wired or wireless – take the lead is a bad idea. Instead, the League argues, local governments should use what policy and political tools are available and jump in with both feet…

Cities should be aware that their wireless broadband needs will grow exponentially in the future, and should plan with the understanding that their infrastructure will need to be constantly updated.


No secrets in California's self driving car race

22 April 2017 by Steve Blum
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Autonomous cars will be networked cars, manufacturers will maintain constant contact, and make themselves and onboard data available to the cops. That’s one of the takeaways from a draft set of new rules for testing them on California’s public streets that was published by the department of motor vehicles. If – when – manufacturers get to the point that self-driving vehicles can be tested on the open road without someone on standby in the driver’s seat, or even without a steering wheel or other old school controls, then they’ll have to make sure that…

There is a communication link between the vehicle and the remote operator to provide information on the vehicle’s location and status and allow two-way communication between the remote operator and any passengers if the vehicle experiences any failures that would endanger the safety of the vehicle’s passengers or other road users, or otherwise prevent the vehicle from functioning as intended, while operating without a driver.


Apple goes public with self-driving car plans. Sorta

15 April 2017 by Steve Blum
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Apple has finally admitted that it has a self-driving car project in the works, but isn’t saying much else. It now has a permit from the California department of motor vehicles to test autonomous vehicles, which was issued, or at least posted, yesterday. According to the Wall Street Journal, its fleet consists of three Lexus SUVs which will be driven by six registered test drivers.

According to a story by Oscar Raymundo in Macworld, Apple’s business model might have shifted from making self-driving cars to developing software that’ll be offered to other manufacturers…

In 2016, however, Apple seemed to have pivoted the initiative, opting for creating just the self-driving software to license to established car-makers instead of assembling an entirely new Apple vehicle.


Artificial intelligence naturally ignores bicycles

18 February 2017 by Steve Blum

As someone who regularly spends several hours a week on a bicycle, wondering if the diesel rumble of a truck coming up behind me is the last sound I’ll ever hear, I was sorely disappointed to read that help, in the form of robotic vehicles, might be a long time coming.

A story by Peter Fairley on the IEEE Spectrum blog looks at the successes that self-driving car companies have had in developing software and sensors that can recognise other cars and predict their movements, and contrasts it with the failure to do the same with bicycles…

Nuno Vasconcelos, a visual computing expert at the University of California, San Diego, says bikes pose a complex detection problem because they are relatively small, fast and heterogenous.


Limits of self driving cars will be drawn by mobile carriers

8 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Continental’s 5G roadmap.

When fully autonomous vehicles arrive depends on where you want to be driven. If there’s a low latency, high speed mobile network available – likely, a 5G network – then you’ll be able to take a nap in the back seat. If connectivity isn’t there or isn’t up to the necessary standard, then you’ll have to sit behind the wheel and be ready to take control on short notice.
That’s my takeaway from a briefing at CES yesterday by Continental, an automotive technology company.… More

It's OK when dumb people kill, smart cars not so much

5 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Not even with the best intentions.

“Would we accept thirty-five thousand deaths at the hands of a machine?” That’s the question Gil Pratt, the CEO of the Toyota Research Institute posed as he discussed the challenges of designing autonomous vehicles at CES yesterday. U.S. society does accept 35,000 traffic deaths a year at the hands of human drivers. Might not like it, but humans are allowed to drive nevertheless.

Pratt doesn’t believe the same casualty rate, or even half that rate, would be acceptable if cars drove themselves.… More

Forget cars, the business model is high tech automotive innovation

4 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Love child of a minivan and a Gremlin.

If the Fiat-Chrysler media presentation is anything to judge by, the major automaker offensive at CES will be long on flashy concepts, disappointingly short on actual products but interesting from a business innovation perspective. The event featured a mock up a concept car that’s “designed by millennials for millennials”, along with the four millennials who are apparently responsible for it. They did some decidedly old school gushing over the car – called the Chrysler Portal – before wrapping up with a group hug.… More

Self driving cars and self starting republicans headline CES

3 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Vegas, baby.

The product and policy buzz at the Consumer Electronics Show I mean International CES oops, the global technology event which has the official name of CES is humming around autonomous vehicles as the show gets under way this week. Car companies are out in force, while Silicon Valley-style tech companies continue to back away and the big guns of consumer electronics seem to be showing up because its the Car Electronics Show the most awesome global technology event ever.… More

Arizona scores a victory as DMV vanquishes Uber

23 December 2016 by Steve Blum
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So what if Acme got a permit?

Angry taxi drivers couldn’t do it. Stroppy city councils couldn’t do it. But California’s department of motor vehicles did it. The DMV has, um, driven Uber out of California, and into the arms of Arizona. The fight over Uber’s (sorta) self-driving car test in San Francisco ended with the offending vehicles being loaded onto a truck and hauled across the Colorado River. According to a story on SFGate.com, Arizona is happy to see them…

“Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck,” an Uber spokeswoman said Thursday afternoon in a statement.