Take A Look At The First Driverless Racecar

With more and more people being interested in driver-less technology it was only a matter of time before it went from the streets to the race track. Formula E have already announced their intention to start a driverless championship, but you can even get a glimpse at the designs behind the first driverless racecar.

Roborace, the world’s first driverless series, released renderings of what their first designs for what autonomous racing cars could look like, and they do not disappoint. Designed by Chief Design Officer Daniel Simon, known for his work on Oblivion and Tron: Legacy, the designs look perfect for a vehicle that no longer has to worry about their driver, offering people the chance to enjoy great looking vehicles doing insane speeds around a track.

While we still have to wait till 2017 before we get to enjoy the series featuring all-electric cars, just seeing the first design reminds us of its potential.

With a trailer to go alongside the design rendering, when will we get to see the next design? With the ability for anyone in the automated vehicle business to take part in the championship, we could soon see designs from big names in both technology and cars manufacturing as they get ready to view and race their cars doing high-speed around tracks.

Driverless Bikes Are Now A Thing Too

The term driverless isn’t anything new and it is probably most known in relation to cars and Google’s self-driving car project that’s been going on for years now. But we’ve also heard of driverless lorries coming to the UK, driverless pods in London, and even driverless Formula E racing as well as oversized quad-copters for personal usage, but driverless bicycles is one I haven’t heard of before.

The driverless bike, or i-Bike as it has been named, is the brainchild of Ayush Pandey and Subhamoy Mahajan, two students from IIT Kharagpur, India. The whole idea started with an idea that is as noble as the result is brilliant: The two wanted to build a simple vehicle that could help disabled people get more out of life by increasing their freedom. Now that’s an idea we all can get behind.

The i-Bike has autonomous steering, brakes, driving, and balancing mechanisms that can work completely on their own as well as aids to just help you with the part that might be troublesome for you.

Just riding a bicycle wasn’t the only problem the students tried to solve, parking and retrieving a bike can be equally challenging for a disabled person as bicycle locations by default rarely have much in disability friendliness. You wouldn’t expect them to ride a bicycle, so it isn’t out of bad intentions.

“We saw some differently abled people who could ride bicycles but had to face many problems when trying to take their bikes out from the parking space, as most such spaces are not disabled friendly. To tackle this problem we started working to make a bicycle that would be controlled wirelessly,” says Ayush, a fourth year Mechanical Engineering student

You can ride the i-Bike manually or you can get help from the dual locomotion technology. The autonomous driving is handled with the help of GPS as well as lasers and sonar based sensors to avoid obstacles in its path. The destination is set by an Android app that sends an SMS to the i-Bike. Upon receiving this, it will start its journey.

None of the techniques used is new as such, but this combination of them is awesome. It has a unique and affordable software architecture that enables it to follow specialised bicycle lanes as they are found in many countries already. It also offers live tracking and wireless control mechanism on top of all that.

What started as a team of two is now comprised of 13 undergraduate students from various departments of IIT Kharagpur, all working together and making up the i-Bike team. Since the project was started back in October 2014, the team has won several awards, most recently the innovation challenge organised by KPIT Technologies where they won first prize.

The trainer wheels that have been used for balancing can easily be retracted by a switch and the same goes for the steering aids that also can be turned on and off by the flick of a switch.

The i-Bike could solve many problems in urban cities and crowded spaces. Whether you want to prevent theft by sending you bike home, retrieve it where ever you are in order to get home, or just want to send it on a cruise of its own, the i-Bike can do it. It would also allow new options for bicycle sharing centres where you could rent a bike, drive where you need to go, and then send it back home again on its own. The same way you could order it back via your smartphone no matter where you are located, and you won’t even have to pedal yourself.

Once the team has the patent, they plan to collaborate with companies willing to start bicycle sharing centres in India – and hopefully this kind of technology will make it to the rest of the world too.

Driverless Lorries Coming to the UK

When it comes to cars, there is one topic on every companies lips, driverless technology. The ability to take a car from your house to the shops, to work, and then back home without ever pressing the pedals or touching the steering wheel. From Formula E announcing that they will start racing driverless vehicles and London looking to get driverless pods within the year, what could be next? Driverless lorries.

The Department for Transport is keen on being seen as a forerunner for technology, from driverless cars to electric car charging roads. The latest plans seem to be creating a driverless “HGV platoon”, with up to 10 computer controlled lorries being driver mere metres away from one another. The trial for the project, set to take place later this year, will see the vehicles driving down the M6 with the front vehicle being driven by a person.

Some have been sceptical about the plan, though, with the president of the AA, Edmund King, saying that while it may work in other countries it might not be the right thing in the UK.

His reasoning for this doubt was that “The problem with the UK motorway network is that we have more entrances and exits of our motorways than any other motorways in Europe or indeed the world”.

While plans like these are great, I can see where King is coming from. Ten lorries blocking your exit on the road would be a pain. While having regular automated lorries would help reduce traffic in the long run and perhaps even ease congestion, I can see people be scared and sceptical until they are a regular sight on the roads.

Image courtesy of the Daily Mail

The Tesla Autopilot System is Surreal

Tesla is certainly a pioneer of vehicle technology and continues to innovate in this market. The concept of autonomous cars is becoming more widely accepted and provides a glimpse into the future. Recently, Tesla’s Autopilot system was showcased in a real world scenario. The software is capable of detecting the speed and behaviour in densely populated areas.

As a result, the system automatically steers, swaps between lanes and adjusts speed. Additionally, it can navigate to a parking area and perform parallel parking. At first this appears bizarre and almost frightening given our distrust towards technology and familiarity with manual driving. Once that initial hurdle is over, the driving is quite serene and less stressful than the typical daily commute.

Despite this, there are still some safety concerns in regards to pedestrians and unexpected events. Clearly, the Autopilot system requires a great deal of further testing and first-hand experience before consumers feel confident using it. Its potential though is nothing short of revolutionary. While some car enthusiasts love driving, others find it to be a daily annoyance. This is usually caused by aggressive drivers.

Would you feel comfortable in an automated vehicle? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Netherlands First To Introduce Self Driving Shuttles To Public Roads

We’ve been hearing about them for a while. Self-driving cars are a popular thing for people, companies and countries, Companies like Google, who state that their self-driving cars are actually too safe for urban areas, and Heathrow, who operate a self-driving pod system at terminal five, it would seem that automated vehicles are going to be a big thing in the near future. While Google is testing their self-driving car on public roads it has its limits, and it would seem the Netherlands are going to be the first to introduce automated shuttles to the public roadways.

Titled WEpods, the small shuttles can fix up to six people in and are planned to run between two towns in the Netherlands. Ede and Waegeningen are about seventeen-minute drives away from one another, with the latter being a large center for farming and agricultural research thanks to its university.

The buses will be designed to go at roughly 15 miles per hour and will have a real person monitoring via camera so that if anything goes wrong they will be able to quickly respond. Set to be the first permanent public use of an automated vehicle without a dedicated human presence, the project hopes to launch on the 30th November this year.

Would you be excited by a similar project coming to where you live? Would you feel safe in a bus without a driver or would you prefer to have someone there just in case?

Thank you Gizmondo for the information. 

Image courtesy of Wageningenur.

Raspberry PI And Over-The-Counter Laser Can ‘Disable Self-Drive Car’

Jonathan Petit, the principal scientist at Security Innovation, has managed to disrupt the awareness programming in self-driving cars with a simple laser pen and pulse generator. The equipment is easily obtainable and requires a low-cost computer such as the Raspberry PI. Once combined with a laser pen, you can trick the car’s sensors into thinking there is a “ghostlike” object ahead which causes the vehicle to slow down. Mr Petit told tech magazine IEEE Spectrum that a vehicle could come to a complete halt if enough objects were detected.

“I can spoof thousands of objects and basically carry out a denial of service attack on the tracking system so it’s not able to track real objects,”

“I can take echoes of a fake car and put them at any location I want,” 
This is a rather worrying revelation and raises questions about the safety of autonomous cars. Despite the huge investment into the driver-less technology, it seems bizarre that a $40 kit has the potential to create major incidents. Thankfully, Mr Petit and his research team have publicly published a paper on these concerns. As a result, the press coverage surrounding this revelation should help the self-driver car makers to tackle this issue head on and find a unbreakable fix.
Would you feel comfortable in a driver-less car?
Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Driverless Cars to Hit UK Streets Soon

Here at eTeknix, we love to hear about the latest car technology; it’s nice to see how it has progressed over the years. Lately, we have been very interested in electric vehicles (EV’s) and autonomous/driverless cars.

In recent weeks, we have heard of the green light for Google to release driverless cars onto the public highway in California and now it seems that the UK are following suit. We are still in testing stages due to the massive public fear that autonomous cars aren’t safe to be in or around while they are active on the road; Google has quashed those fears, but some are still against the idea. The testing locations will be Bristol, Coventry, Milton Keynes and Greenwich (London).

This isn’t exactly a surprise considering how well the US has taken driverless cars, but the UK will be the first in Europe to lead the way in allowing these vehicles to use the road.  In a statement, Transport Minister Claire Perry said “the trials present a fantastic opportunity for this country to take a lead internationally in the development of this new technology.” This is a huge step forward considering the likes of Volvo are ready to ship driverless cars to the UK consumer market; they have to wait until 2017 before Sweden will allow them on the roads.

How do you feel about these vehicles being allowed on the streets of the UK? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

Delphi’s Driverless Car Preparing to Start Its Nationwide Journey

It looks like Delphi is looking to start pushing boundaries today by showing off the true potential of autonomous vehicle technology. The driverless car is set to begin a cross-country trip later today, having the starting point set in California and the destination set as New York. Though driverless cars may be truly advanced, a driver will still be present inside the car to take control in case of emergency.

“Delphi had great success testing its car in California and on the streets of Las Vegas,” said Jeff Owens, chief technology officer of Delphi. “now it’s time to put our vehicle to the ultimate test by broadening the range of driving conditions. This drive will help us collect invaluable data in our quest to deliver the best automotive grade technologies on the market.”

The journey is said to be 3.500 miles and is taking place in order for engineers to collect valuable live data which can further enhance the self-driving car technology. The vehicle is said to be able to accurately navigate a 4-way stop, pass cyclists safely and enter/exit highways on its own.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information

100 Real People to Test Volvo Self-Driving Cars in 2017

Volvo, the Scandinavian automaker, has said that they will begin testing of their first driverless vehicles with real drivers in 2017. Yes, that means anyone, not special scientists or engineers. The tests will also be on public roads as well, in real traffic on the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Volvo is seeing this as an example of their edge over the competition. The head of R&D at Volvo, Peter Martens, poked fun at their German counterparts.

“We do this in real traffic with real customers and real cars,” he said. “It’s relatively easy to put together a mockup or a show car which drives around race circuits with 250 kilometers [per hour] or put living rooms on four wheels and pretend that this is the car interior, how it looks like in 10 years. It’s much more complicated and much more real-life to really put the cars into the traffic where it’s the most complicated situation.”

If Volvo’s plans go ahead, they would mark a significant development in the evolution of driverless cars, marking the first literal public testing programme.

Source: The Verge

Flying Cars to be “Commercially Available” in 2016?

Terrafugia, a company based in Boston in the United States, says that it will offer the first “commercially available” flying car in 2016.

The ‘Transition’, as it’s called, will allow those who hold pilot licenses to fly their aircraft as well as drive it on the roads too. It is officially street legal – the first flying craft to receive such certification. The craft runs on standard unleaded fuel and is supposed to be incredibly easy to fly.

However, you might be questioning this and wondering, is this really the flying car we’ve always envisioned? Well, you do need a pilot’s license for it and it costs $279,000, making it inaccessible to many. Terrafugia thinks it has the answer to this though.

They say that the ‘Transition’ is just the beginning and that in 10 years, they will be able to offer the TF-X – a craft that is completely driverless, allowing literally anyone to step onboard and fly to wherever they want to go at speeds of up to 200mph. They say that the cost issue will be solved too – the vehicles will offered perhaps in a similar way to a taxi or Uber for example, where you can pay a fare just for the journey you wish to take.

While all of this is incredibly exciting, we’ll have to see it to believe it first.

Source: BBC News

Reuters: Apple’s Car is Driverless

Following on from yesterday’s confirmation from The Wall Street Journal that Apple is indeed working on a car, Reuters has pitched in today with its suggestion that the car is driverless. The WSJ actually claimed the opposite of that suggesting the vehicle will be something more in line with Tesla’s offerings, but Reuters claims oppose that, falling more in line with earlier rumours, and of course that sighting of an Apple-leased vehicle.

The report says that Apple is not actively engaged with the automotive industry, they say that the company is instead developing the car on its own.

The Cupertino, California-based maker of phones, computers and watches is exploring how to make an entire vehicle, not just designing automotive software or individual components, the source said. 

“They don’t appear to want a lot of help from carmakers,” the source, who declined to be named, said.

These claims from both publications are unprecedented, as they make it clear that Apple is certainly doing something that points to the development of a car.

Source: Reuters

Is Apple Building a Driverless Car?

No that blacked out car doesn’t belong to the FBI, it belongs to Apple. Well, according to CBS it’s at least leased to Apple, but what it was doing is something we don’t yet know.

A local San Francisco Bay Area blog called Claycord first discovered the vehicle, that has an array of cameras, something similar to a Google Street View car, leading to the logical suggestion that Apple is planning to add Street View-style imagery to its mapping service. However, if you compare that car with a Street View car, you can easily see that Apple’s car has quite a bit more equipment attached to the roof.

So perhaps it’s driverless? While technology analysts and driverless car experts have suggested that it may well be, you don’t really need to be an expert to see the similarities between this other driverless cars. Heck, there’s even a video of a driverless car in New York from last year that was the exact same model, with pretty similar equipment attached to it.

Apple of course, declined to comment, but this piece of news is no doubt terribly exciting, leading many to wonder just what Apple might have up its sleeve.

Source and Image: Claycord Via: MacRumors 

BMW Car Can’t Crash at Low Speeds

BMW has been showing off its latest and greatest tech at CES, including this – a car that cannot crash at low speeds. Now you might think that at low speeds what’s the point of a car not being able to crash – surely it’s more important at higher speeds? Well this is more about parking and preventing annoying dings and dents.

The car utilises a number of sensors to prevent any collisions around the entire circumference of the vehicle, stopping it just inches away from any obstacle. That thing about inches is good too, since you don’t exactly want to be stopping every 5 seconds when you’re trying to park.

But really it’s not just about dings and dents; this will prove very valuable in the safety of young children, who could be hard to spot when walking behind a moving a vehicle. The car can also park itself – something becoming increasingly common these days, but this one can do it via a smartwatch!

The Verge has produced this really great video showing some of the car’s features.

Source: The Verge

Driverless Cars to Be Tested in Four UK Cities

Driverless cars will be tested in 4 UK cities starting 1st January. Coventry, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Greenwich in south-east London will be the first to see the vehicles hit public roads.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne announced the plans during today’s Autumn Statement in Parliament. The initiative was launched back in July, but plans are now starting to take shape. Mr Osbourne also announced an extra £9 million of government funding for the project, adding to the earlier £10 million.

The project is formed of a number of schemes backed by different companies and organisations. In London there will be the Gateway scheme which is being organised by the Transport Research Laboratory consultancy, in Bristol there will be the Venturer consortium, which is backed by insurance company Axa, while Coventry and Milton Keynes will see the UK Autodrive programme, which is being backed by Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Arup.

The individual schemes will test and experiment with different issues facing the introduction of driverless vehicles, such as insurance implications and the effect of the vehicles on reducing traffic congestion.

Source: BBC News

FBI Warns Autonomous Cars Could Be Used As Bombs

Self driving cars are a thing for the future and most people are looking forward to them. Even the United Kingdom stated that it will introduce some sort of taxi pods a while back, having them operational by 2017. However, are autonomous vehicles really that safe? The Federal Bureau of Investigation tends to disagree.

The FBI has apparently given a warning that criminals could use these driverless vehicles in a variety of ways, from evading law enforcement officers, to shooting cops from the back of the vehicle. An internal report obtained by The Guardian states that in a section by the name of “multitasking”, autonomous vehicles fall in the description of ‘tools’ which can be used to “conduct tasks that require use of both hands or taking one’s eyes off the road which would be impossible today”.

In addition to the above, driverless vehicles can also be used as a ‘bomb on wheels’, being able to program it to drive itself to the target. All in all, it seems that although self driving vehicles are a great futuristic way of transportation, they can also pose a great risk for safety and security.

The report is said to be made by the Strategic Issues Group within the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence and it does not describe only negative points of view about the new technology. It is said that driverless vehicles could be used to as a surveillance tool, keeping a lock on targets while remaining undetected. Though it is unfortunate to see advances in consumer technology becoming a benefit for criminals, impeding further advancements due to the fear of it being used as a weapon.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The Verge

Unmanned Transport Pods To Be Deployed In Milton Keynes, UK

Milton Keynes (UK) is planning a new futuristic approach in terms of transportation. The town is preparing to replace the existing old and noisy buses with a fleet of 100 ULTra PRT transport pods. Each pod has a capacity of 2 passengers plus room for luggage and travels at a speed of 12 miles per hour. As per the initial plan, pods will carry passengers between downtown area, train station and business district. Fares are estimated to be £2 per trip and pedestrians will have to use a smartphone app to hail a pod.

The pods are driven by computers but can be controlled by passengers in case of any problem. A similar system is already in place at Heathrow airport in London and is being used for shuttling passengers from terminal to terminal. The system is operational since 2011 and there have been no major incidents so far.

With an estimated budget of £65 million, the pilot project would require laying down special roadway and charging stations for the pods. The special roadway would contain safety bumpers to separate the pods from regular traffic and charging stations would be set up en route. The current plan is to have the system up and running by 2015 and fully operational by 2017.

If everything goes well and the project succeeds, the idea is to have pods no longer run on restricted lanes, paving the way for driverless public transport systems and personal vehicles.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7OxvLuK83g[/youtube]

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of Tech Spot