Archive for the ‘autonomous vehicles’ Category

Where we’re going, we won’t need windows: How autonomy will change cars

December 5th, 2018
When AI is doing the driving, what we call a "car" may look and act like something else entirely.

Enlarge / When AI is doing the driving, what we call a "car" may look and act like something else entirely. (credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Welcome to Ars UNITE, our week-long virtual conference on the ways that innovation brings unusual pairings together. Each day this week from Wednesday through Friday, we're bringing you a pair of stories about facing the future. Today's focus is on AI in transportation—buckle up!

As artificial intelligence technology becomes more integrated into our daily lives, it may have a profound effect on how everyday objects look and behave. That's especially true of autonomous vehicles. While the first self-driving cars in development have built upon human-controlled designs, AI will steer vehicle design past traditional shapes and features. With fewer human factors to worry about, the shape and behavior of vehicles could change radically. And it could all start with something as simple as headlights.

“As vehicles shift from drivers to autonomy, the importance of lights will diminish while the importance of sensors will increase,” explained Adam Rodnitzky, the vice president of marketing at Occipital, a spatial computing company. “Therefore, we’ll start to see common design features like headlights, tail lights and turn signals go from prominent styling features to vestigial and diminished design elements.”

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BMW’s concept car celebrates 100th birthday, flexible bodywork

March 7th, 2016

BMW announced a concept car today that will be on display this year as part of the company’s 100-year anniversary celebration. The car, a sedan that BMW is calling the “Vision Next 100,” eschews excessive homage to the past and leans hard on a future-focused aesthetic. It almost looks as if the car is wearing one of those gold-and-silver jumpsuits that will be the uniform of the citizenry in 2100.

In a statement, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG Harald Krüger said that the concept was meant to embody how BMW is looking forward to the next century of auto trends. “We have demonstrated on many occasions throughout our history that we are capable of learning fast and taking bold steps,” Krüger said.

The Vision Next 100 is a vehicle with both autonomous and manual driving options, something that’s been popular in concept cars from automakers in the past year (check out our article on Volvo’s autonomous/manual hybrid car for reference). It seems automakers are anticipating a world where autonomous driving is an option, but not the only option. In the future, dealers can still up-sell customers on how well a car drives because customers won’t want to be driven by a computer all the time, or so luxury automakers are betting.

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Posted in autonomous vehicles, BMW, Cars Technica, mini, Rolls-Royce, self-driving car | Comments (0)

White center lines are being removed from roads in the UK—for safety

February 10th, 2016

Throughout the past year, a number of newly paved roads in and around London were finished without the traditional center lines dividing traffic. According to a white paper published (PDF) by Transport for London (TfL), removal of center lines on roads where the speed limit is less than 30 miles per hour results in a “statistically significant reduction in vehicle speeds.”

Trials in Norfolk and Wiltshire have also supported the removal of the center line to reduce vehicle speed.

The TfL white paper found that drivers tend to slow their driving by up to 4mph on roads with no center lines. But, since the study was only conducted on smooth, newly-paved roads, the researchers at TfL corrected the data to account for the fact that drivers tend to go slightly faster when they feel confident that the road is in good condition. With such corrections, TfL found that the lack of center lines could theoretically reduce average vehicle speeds by up to 8.6mph.

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Google’s self-driving cars hit twice in June, but new 25 mph pods unscathed

July 7th, 2015

According to a report released by Google (PDF) this month, the company’s self-driving cars were involved in two human-error accidents in the month of June. In addition, Google’s funny little prototype self-driving cars hit the streets of Mountain View for the first time. The company says that so far, the two prototypes logging hours on public streets have not been involved in any accidents.

Google received some pressure from an advocacy group called Consumer Watchdog as well as the Associated Press in May, notably after the AP reported that there had been at least three collisions involving Google’s self-driving cars in the previous six months. More detail could not be obtained because of the DMV’s privacy rules surrounding accident reports, but Google vowed it would release a monthly report detailing any accidents involving the company’s self driving cars from then on.

The most recent report says that Google self-driving cars have only been involved in 14 accidents since they began roaming the streets in 2009. Ars covered the 13th accident earlier this month, when a Lexus outfitted with Google’s autonomous vehicle sensors was rear-ended by another, human-operated car. Both cars were going less than 1 mph.

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