Airbus developing prototype for flying car

Airbus Group is preparing to test a prototype of a self piloted flying car. The company created the Urban Air Mobility division last year to create concepts for flying cars.

“One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders told the DLD digital tech conference in Munich.

The aim is to allow people to use an app to book vehicles. This would save money and reduce costs for city infrastructure. “With flying, you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads,” he said.

The company is the world’s largest maker of commercial helicopters. Therefore, while no designs have yet been published of this potential flying car, we can generalize that it may look like a helicopter.

Michigan prepping for the future of self driving vehicles with new law

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that creates regulations for testing, using, and selling autonomous vehicles within the state of Michigan.

This law is important because it takes into consideration that the country is accepting autonomous vehicles.

Gov. Snyder said the legislation is key to the future of research and development of automotive technology in the state. Snyder signed the bill at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn. It also allows companies to operate self driving ride-sharing vehicles.

The law will introduce the Michigan Council of Future Mobility which will make recommendations no statewide policy and regulate connected vehicle networks and oversee traffic data generated by the networks.

The law is a package of four bills, Senate Bills 995,996,997, and 998. The main bill allows self driving vehicles to operate in Michigan, it allows automated trucks to travel together, and allows networks of self driving cars that are allows to pick up passengers when called for.

 

Tesla has collected 1.3 billion miles of Autopilot data

Tesla Pilot has collected a whopping 1.3 billion miles of data that will be used to carefully enhance self driving vehicles. Currently Tesla announced Autopilot 2.0 and is making a transition into its third Tesla model that will come equipped for full autonomy.

Elon Musk disclosed that it has accumulated 780 million miles on hardware equipped cars and 100 million with Autopilot active back in May 2016.

Tesla’s Director of Autopilot Programs, Sterling Anderson, said that ““We first install (Autopilot) in a logging fashion across 70,000 vehicles. We watch over 10’s of millions of miles with the new (Autopilot) features not turned on. We only turn it on when we know it is empirically safer.”

There are more than 100,000 vehicles with Autopilot and hundreds of thousands more are being produced.

Other companies are also testing their own self driving systems such as Uber with Otto. It doesn’t seem too far fetched to say that self driving cars may become fully functioning in the next 5 years.

Uber’s Otto self-driving truck made its first delivery

Uber and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV teamed up to deliver a shipment of beer using a self-driving truck, the first time a self-driving truck has made a commercial delivery.

The truck, an 18-wheeler, traveled more than 120 miles on its own, of course a truck driver was present to navigate the truck in the city but let go of the wheel during the highway route. A police cruiser also escorted the truck during the trip. The technology used was Uber’s Otto and is capable of level 4 autonomy. Uber acquired Otto last year but is running under Uber on a separate brand.

Otto’s autonomous technology can work with any truck with an automatic transmission. It uses LIDAR laser detection units, a radar that’s attached to the bumper, and a high precision camera that’s attached above the windshield.

Uber worked with Colorado regulators to obtain permission for the delivery and the arrangement for a police cruiser to follow the truck. The delivery was made from Fort Collins, CO to Colorado Springs.

Teslas Autopilot 2.0 now available on all Models

Tesla said last Wednesday that all of its vehicles that are being produced will be equipped with hardware needed for full self-driving capability and as stated by Tesla at a “safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.”

Autopilot 2.0 is the second generation autonomous driving hardware that will offer full level 5 autonomy, according to CEO Elon Musk. It’s available in future Models S and X and every Model 3.

Autopilot 2.0 will equip the vehicles with 360 camera coverage up to 250 meters range for level 5 autonomy. It will have 8 cameras, 3 front facing, 12 ultrasonic sensors, a forward facing radar, and 40x more powerful on-board computers, using the Nvidia GPU Titan supercomputer.

Musk noted that at first the new hardware will not offer Autopilot 1.0 capabilities, though it will after a few software improvements over the coming months. By early next year, it should outperform Autopilot 1.0. Level 3 autonomy will be coming in a few months while levels 4 and ultimately level 5 will be coming in 2018.

Autopilot 2.0 will come at a price much like the Autopilot which costs $3,000, Tesla Vision will of course be more expensive at around $8,000. Some new capabilities that will come with are automatic emergency breaking, collision warning, lane holding, and active cruise control, and all of these will be enabled using the over-the-air updates.

Autopilot update 8.0 moving forward

Elon Musk tweeted this morning saying that he is “hoping to start the rollout of 8.0 on Wednesday if no last minute issues discovered.”

The biggest change in Autopilot is an increased reliance radar. “After careful consideration, we now believe [radar] can be used as a primary control sensor without requiring the camera to confirm visual image recognition,” wrote Musk in a blog post on Sunday. The sensor was first installed to Tesla vehicles in 2014 and this update may be because of the fatal car crash of a Tesla Model S in which the driver was killed while using the Autopilot service in May.

Also included in the update will be a “geocoded whitelist” of objects such as signs and other obstacles that result in the misidentification of objects and the vehicle making unnecessary braking or dangerous maneuvering. The fatal accident in May was caused when Autopilot did not recognize a truck that was turning towards the car and instead identified it as an overhead sign.

To those with Autopilot always drive safely. The update will be delivered over the air to eligible vehicles.

 

Comma.ai shows off Comma One autonomous driving technology

At TechCrunch Disrupt SF hacker George Hotz unveiled the Comma One, the first official product of his automotive AI company, Comma.ai. The Comma One isn’t a vehicle, its an add on that’s installed into vehicles. It sells for $999 with a $24 month software subscription.

The Comma One is similar to Tesla’s autopilot. Its a system that doesn’t fully automotive vehicles simply had features that allow for near automation. During his speech at Disrupt Hotz stated that the Comma One would allow vehicles to drive from Mountain View to San Francisco without touching the wheel.

It doesn’t have many sensors because it relies on the built in car front radars. Though Hotz stated that the Comma One does come with a camera, which would allow video capture. We’re actually getting back the video, even Tesla isn’t doing that,” Hotz said. “We have all the video data.”

Hotz stated that they will try to ship the product before the end of this year and will only be sold in limited quantities.

Nissan to rollout autonomous driving system ProPILOT in Japan next month

Nissan has built an autonomous driving system called ProPILOT, which is a self-driving featured designed to be used in a single-lane highway system and will be used on Japanese roads in August of this year.

ProPILOT will be integrated with the Nissan Serena first in August. In a press release, Nissan stated that ProPILOT controls steering, acceleration, and braking, and is designed to be used in heavy traffic and slow speeds, and long commutes, its also only for use in single-lanes.

ProPILOT can automatically manage the distance between cars, travel between speeds from 18 mph to 60 mph, and using a monocular 360-degree camera system, made by Mobileye, the car can watch for lane markers, other vehicles, and keep itself within a lane.

ProPILOT can also stop the car if any vehicles in front stop. Nissan states that the brakes remain engaged even if the driver doesn’t have their foot on the brake pedal. The driver then must accelerate the car themselves or turn on self-driving to being moving. The feature can also detect if the drivers hands are not on the steering wheel and can send warnings.

Nissan is working on more functionality for ProPILOT. The company has plans to release lane switching in 2018 and city driving in 2020.

Nissan is taken a careful approach to self-driving. There are many scenarios that are not accounted for when trying to make a vehicle completely autonomous, such as with the Tesla Autopilot incidents. It appears that Nissan wants to tap into an early market and gradually increase functionality.

Nissan says it has tested ProPILOT in Japan and in the U.S. and the is aiming for a European debut in 2017 as well as in the U.S and China, though there are no definitive timelines for the U.S and China releases.

Olli and Watson a new way to travel

IBMs AI platform, Watson, is being integrated with Olli services.

Olli interiorOlli is an electric-powered autonomous vehicle, minibus, that has the capacity to carry up 12 people. It was designed by Local Motors, based in Arizona, using technologies such as 3D printing.
The vehicle will have a unique version of Watson integrated into Ollie to improve passengers experience, according to IBM. Though Watson won’t be navigating or driving the vehicle. “IBM technology, including IBM Watson or IBM Watson IOT technology, does not control, navigate or drive Olli. Rather, the IBM Watson capabilities of Olli will help to improve the passenger experience and allow natural interaction with the vehicle,” the company said.

A few Watson APIs will be integrated with Ollie: Speech to Text and Text to Speech, Natural Language Classifier, and Entity Extraction. Passengers could be able to talk to Ollie and ask for locations of landmarks, attractions, restaurants and much more.

These vehicles are planned to operate in Washington, DC, and then expand to Miami-Date County and Las Vegas.

Automated vehicles will one day change how we drive and most specifically the taxi industry and IBM, one of the worlds largest technology companies, is taking its first steps.  “Olli offers a smart, safe and sustainable transportation solution that is long overdue,” John B. Rogers, co-founder of Local Motors, said in a statement. “Olli with Watson acts as our entry into the world of self-driving vehicles, something we’ve been quietly working on with our co-creative community for the past year. We are now ready to accelerate the adoption of this technology and apply it to nearly every vehicle in our current portfolio and those in the very near future. I’m thrilled to see what our open community will do with the latest in advanced vehicle technology.”

Uber is Testing a Self Driving Car in Pittsburgh

It’s no secret that Uber wants a fleet of self driving cars, especially after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick proposed to buy 500,000 driver-less cars from Tesla. Though that proposition never went through, Uber has turned to testing their own self driving cars.

“If you’re driving around Pittsburgh in the coming weeks you might see a strange sight: a car that looks like it should be driven by a superhero. But this is no movie prop — it’s a test car from Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh.” – Uber Newsroom.

Similar to Googles testing of their self driving cars, Uber will be self driving capabilities of the car, a hybrid Ford Fusion, and collecting mapping data, with a trained driver behind the wheel. The car will be equipped with high resolution cameras and multiple sensors such as radars and laser scanners, allowing it to drive autonomously with the ability to learn and adapt to different scenarios.

“Real-world testing is critical to our efforts to develop self-driving technology. Self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world.  1.3 million people die every year in car accidents — 94% of those accidents involve human error. In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents. These goals are at the heart of Uber’s mission…” – Uber Newsroom.

The company is focusing on safety and the reliability of the technology and have gotten the approval of the city of Pittsburgh.

“From the first steel mills to the laboratories at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh has a long history of innovation. Now we’re taking another step forward, this time as home to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, where some of the world’s leading innovators are helping to shape the future of transportation. We’re excited that Uber has chosen the Steel City as they explore new technologies that can improve people’s lives — through increased road safety, less congestion, and more efficient and smarter cities.” – William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh.

With so many companies such as Google, Tesla, Hyundai, Mercedes, and many others, it’s not surprising that another company jumps into testing. The difference with Uber is how it will shift the taxi industry even further. The company has already caused a change in taxi services but self driving taxi services will completely renovate the industry.

Interestingly Uber has placed an order of 100,000 autonomous Mercedes S-Class sedans, which are expected to be completed around 2020. The company has also announced a partnership with Toyota. So one way or another Uber is definitely pushing for an autonomous ride sharing service. Though we can sense a future where Uber will be buying autonomous cars from many companies to offer a variety of car options to choose from.

Lets not forget that Lyft and GM have partnered to do exactly this and its expected that first stage would be semi-autonomous cars in 2019.