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.


Amazon will now truck massive amounts of data to the cloud

Amazon has announced a new service to haul massive amounts of data called AWS Snowmobile. The company is storing hard drives full of data in  a 45-foot-long shipping container, which is transported to an Amazon data center to be transferred to Amazon’s cloud data storage services.

Amazon’s existing Snowball service allows secure 80TB storage. This new services allows the transportation of 100 petabytes (1 million gigabytes) of data. Snowmobile attaches directly to the data center, using network fiber to transfer data, which can transfer 1 terabyte of data per second.

While the data is shipped it is secured. All data is encrypted with AWS Key Management Service keys and Amazon offers dedicated security and a vehicle escort to protect the truck and the massive amounts of data. The containers have GPS tracking and video surveillance with cellular and satellite connectivity.


Toyota launches V2V communication technology in Japan

Toyota has developed a vehicle to vehicle (V2V) system for use in Japan. The Prius, the Lexus RX, and the Toyota Crown have the option to come with the ITS Connect system.

The communication between vehicles works by using analog channels, which allow the cars to send and receive information such as location and speed. The cars can communicate up to 1000 ft (300m) in a 360 degree radius. The interesting thing is the communication is disconnected from the cloud meaning the cars communicate directly with one another.

The three models are also equipped for vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) communications. This means any object that has the ability to communicate, in this case send out signals using analog channels, can communicate with cars. There are traffic signals that can send information about each color and its relevant action (stop, slow, go) and the time between transitions from each action.

Toyota worked with the government of Japan to promote the technology and to educate citizens about the technology. The benefits include cars being given data about crashes, slow downs, or other important traffic data that can help drivers avoid crashes.


Tesla Model S Drives Through Flooded Tunnel

Elon Musk recently tweeted about the Model S, though it wasn’t your regular tweet about Tesla’s electric vehicle. Musk tweeted that the Model S floats in water after a Model S user drove the car through a flooded tunnel.

The video taken in Kazakhstan shows the driver pushing through the flooding. At first it seems as if the car is unable to move after the first jolt, though slowly we can see water being pushed out in the back via the display and the car begins to move.

Musk later stated that the drive unit and battery on the Model S are all “sealed” in order to keep water or other liquids out. Musk is notorious for complicated and lets call them creative projects. One such project would be the bond car, which he was planning to create. The Bond car, for those of you who don’t know, is a hybrid sports sub car that can drive on land and in water. In 2013 Musk bought James Bond’s submarine car, a Lotus Esprit.

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.

Futursitic Bus: Chinas Solution to its traffic nightmare

China has an estimated population of 1.3 billion so its no surprise that its car ownership in soaring at a fast rate. With more cars on the road traffic and pollution have become worse, in some cases nightmares. A response to this situation is the straddling bus.

Show cased at the 19th International High-Tech Expo in Beijing, the bus is unique due to its elevation and ability to allow cars to be able to drive right under it. The bus would span two traffic lanes and carry up to 1,400 passengers. It would travel up to 40 miles an hour above street level on a specialized track, allowing cars under 7 feet high to pass through below its belly. This would help relieve traffic congestion and replace public transportation modes.

The bus also runs on electricity and due to its high passenger limit would be able to replace approximately 40 buses. This cuts fuel consumption and more importantly cuts carbon emissions by 2,500 tons. Transit Explore Bus, a Beijing-based company,  is currently building a test model in Changzhou and with initial tests taking place sometime this summer.

The idea was inspired by architects in 1969, Craig Hodgetts and Lester Walker. It was made to travel between Boston and Washington D.C and therefore it was called the Bos-Wash Landliner, though the idea never hit solid ground, it has inspired a similar creation generations later. It could help China not only help with traffic problems but more importantly its pollution crises. The country has been seeking solutions to combat its high pollution levels.


Hyperloop One successfully tested its electromagnetic transport system and it looks promising.

The company, Hyperloop One, is one of a few companies developing the Hyperloop technology, conceived by Elon Musk. This new transportation technology would use pods that are propelled through a tube system using magnetic and air levitation propulsion systems. Originally worked on by engineers from Tesla and SpaceX it was released as an open source technology. Hyperloop, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, and Transpod, a Toronto-based company, are all working on a full-scale Hyperloop transportation system.

Hyperloop One tested their system on  a 200 feet test track on May 11th, 2016 in Nevada and reached 187kph, their goal is 1,080kph. Though its not completely functional nor completely safe. The company hopes to have a fully functional system by 2020. This fifth mode of transportation, as its being called, would be revolutionary. It would allow for faster travel between cities without having to take the plane and its proposed as being green, cheap, and fast. Though it’ll have to pass all sorts of safety tests and the company(s) will face massive amounts of financial costs to build a network of tubes.