Advanced driver assistance systems trump driverless cars by stealth

While everyone seems fascinated by driverless cars brought to us via Silicon Valley, established suppliers of advanced driver assistance systems are quietly doing a roaring trade 

The automotive industry is going through some fundamental changes, mostly because of computer technology. 

The changes include higher levels of computer processing, fully driverless vehicles, greater levels of autonomy, internet connectivity, and the switch from petrol-powered combustion engines to electric.

It’s probably inevitable that the combustion engine will be gone from most mass-manufactured cars within a couple of decades, and will eventually only be seen in antique cars and supercars, although even some supercars are going electric.

Which means the road-going vehicle of the near-future will essentially be computers with wheels, connected to the cloud, and largely autonomous – or, in other words, a robot. In fact, this is what is already happening because of advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS.  Continue reading Advanced driver assistance systems trump driverless cars by stealth

Volvo and Uber join forces to develop autonomous driving cars

Volvo Cars and Uber join forces to develop autonomous driving cars

Volvo Cars, the Swedish car maker, and Uber, the ride-sharing company, are to join forces to develop next-generation autonomous driving cars.

The two companies have signed an agreement to establish a joint project that will develop new base vehicles that will be able to incorporate the latest developments in advanced driving technologies, up to and including fully autonomous driverless cars.

The base vehicles will be manufactured by Volvo Cars and then purchased from Volvo by Uber. Volvo Cars and Uber are contributing a combined $300 million to the project.  Continue reading Volvo and Uber join forces to develop autonomous driving cars

Are Britain’s small firms ready for robotics and automation?

The Ero robot, designed at Umeå Institute of Design
The Ero robot, designed at Umeå Institute of Design

New research from AXA suggests small firms in the UK are sceptical about the prospects of next-gen tech – from 3D printing, and smart homes, to robotics and driverless cars – reaching their workplaces.

While more than 40 per cent of small businesses don’t yet have a website, the study found that most of them do plan to move online in the next twelve months. If these plans are fulfilled, only 7 per cent of UK businesses will remain offline by this time next year. Few are ready to plunge deeper into the digital revolution, however.

Just one in five plan to migrate to the Cloud in the coming years, and only six per cent of business owners say they expect to adopt smart technologies. Driverless cars, which are set to hit UK roads as early as 2020, have an equally low resonance, as just 8 per cent of business owners expect they will drive one.  Continue reading Are Britain’s small firms ready for robotics and automation?

Rapid growth of online orders welcomes robotics technology, says Axium

axium DP240-2

One click. Delivered right to your door. Guaranteed overnight delivery. The messages are alluring, says Axium Solutions

Convenience has spurred e-commerce’s growth, with more and more retailers stepping up big-time to promote their online wares.

E-commerce annual sales estimates range from $750 billion to $1.2 trillion for that huge digital partner and sometime nemesis of the bricks and mortar store.

Ever-shortening delivery times and an ever-widening range of choice have become goals on-line retailers all strive toward to attract shoppers.  Continue reading Rapid growth of online orders welcomes robotics technology, says Axium

Oxbotica launches universal driverless car software

oxbotica driverless car software

UK company Oxbotica says its driverless vehicles tech is ‘ground-breaking’

Oxbotica, the Oxford-based technology developer, has launched its new Selenium mobile autonomy software solution with a purpose built concept vehicle at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire.

Selenium can work in pedestrianised environments as well as roads and motorways, and is not reliant on GPS to operate – meaning it can easily transition between indoor and outdoor settings, over ground or underground. Continue reading Oxbotica launches universal driverless car software

June is National Safety Month: Why investing in safety is a sound business decision

whirlpool warehouse
Safety at Whirlpool a top priority. Picture courtesy of Seegrid

Three in 10 American workers acquire disability prior to retirement. Thomas R. Cutler looks more closely at the issue of safety in the workplace 

June is National Safety Month which focuses on reducing the leading causes of injury and death at work. Safety is a deliberate act and investing in safety is a sound business decision.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 1 million workers suffer back injuries each year, and account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. A quarter of all compensation indemnity claims involve back injuries, costing industry billions of dollars on top of the pain and suffering borne by employees.

Injuries are avoidable and innovation and automation are part of the safety paradigm this month, during National Safety Month, and for many years to come.  Continue reading June is National Safety Month: Why investing in safety is a sound business decision

New poll finds majority of people would be reluctant to be a passenger in a driverless car

driverless car concept

Institution of Mechanical Engineers/ICM Unlimited survey of 2,002 people finds 55 per cent would be unlikely to want to be a passenger in a driverless car

UK Government and companies such as Google, Ford and Uber are all championing driverless car technology, but according to this latest public survey much more work is needed to convince the public of the benefits of driverless vehicles.

According to the survey, carried out by ICM Unlimited on behalf of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 55 per cent of the 2002 people surveyed said they were unlikely to want to be a passenger of a driverless car, with 40 per cent said they were very unlikely to want to be a passenger. Just 21 per cent of the people surveyed said they would be happy to ride in a driverless vehicle.  Continue reading New poll finds majority of people would be reluctant to be a passenger in a driverless car

Engineers’ institute welcomes laws requiring driverless vehicles to have certificates

driverless car test
Driverless car software will require certificates from the Ministry of Transport before being allowed on the road. Picture courtesy: E&T IET

The UK is to introduce laws and regulations that will require driverless vehicle software makers to obtain Ministry of Transport certificates 

New laws announced in the Queen’s Speech recently will allow fully autonomous vehicles to be insured under normal policies in the UK.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) says the announcement is an “important step forward” which will ultimately improve road safety and reduce congestion. 

But the IET adds that the Government also needs to introduce legislation to improve cyber security in autonomous vehicles.  Continue reading Engineers’ institute welcomes laws requiring driverless vehicles to have certificates

UK’s first driverless car trials invites public to register

Britain’s first autonomous car trials are set to take place later this year in Greenwich, and members of the public are being invited to participate

Members of the public can now register to take part in the UK’s first public driverless vehicle trials, due to take place later this year.

The trials, which will take place in Greenwich, London, are part of the GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project – an £8 million research project to investigate the use, perception and acceptance of autonomous vehicles in the UK.  Continue reading UK’s first driverless car trials invites public to register

Exclusive: Daimler ‘totally committed’ to winning driverless car race

The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion… the company’s driverless car concept
The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion… the company’s driverless car concept

Company has ‘no intention of stepping aside’ and letting tech companies take over the car market of the future, says Daimler’s autonomous driving lead engineer 

Mercedes of course has the longest history of any automaker in the world, having built the first ever car in 1879, when Carl Benz created the “Motorwagen”.

It might look like a fancy tricycle, but the Motorwagen was the first wheeled vehicle to feature a gasoline engine – a one-cylinder two-stroke unit which generated 0.75 horsepower, or 0.55 of a kilowatt.  Continue reading Exclusive: Daimler ‘totally committed’ to winning driverless car race

Stop praying to the gods of the free market and roll out the red carpet to robots, urges Labour

Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson
Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson

The UK Labour Party is urging the government to turn away from “the gods of the free market” and instead roll out the red carpet to our new robot overlords.

Or at least that’s what could be inferred from an opinion piece written by the Labour Party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, who made it clear that he favours mechatronics over abstract notions of free markets.

“A robot driving a lorry may sound daunting, just as a horseless carriage did in 1890. But a driverless car doesn’t get tired, or drink alcohol, or have blind spots,” writes Watson in praise of the machines.

Watson calls for a royal commission into the issue of robotics and automation in the UK, claiming that the chancellor, George Osborne, is leaving to fate to decide whether technological change becomes “out ally not our foe”.

Full story at The Guardian.

 

 

Siemens gets green light for gigantic intelligent transport projects

siemens intelligent transport systems
Picture: A fully automated subway line at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Key parts of the system, including rolling stock, track-based and on-board automated systems, as well as upgrades for the operations control center, were delivered by Siemens Rail Systems.

German industrial conglomerate Siemens has won contracts to construct some of the world’s largest intelligent transport projects which will feature autonomous vehicles and connected infrastructure

intelligent transport systems
In the context of the Car2X project, roadside units along a test area communicate with test vehicles.

A 1,300-kilometer corridor between Rotterdam and Vienna in which vehicles and infrastructures communicate with one another; driverless subway trains in Paris, Budapest, and Riyadh; an autonomously-operating public transportation systems in Ulm, Germany – these are examples of how mobility will be networked and increasingly characterized by autonomous systems – developments that Siemens is deeply involved in.

With six lines and a total route length of 175 kilometers, Riyadh is planning the world’s largest subway project. Siemens is to supply the entire turnkey system for two driverless metro lines in the capital of Saudi Arabia.

The five-million city is looking for sustainable solutions for its local traffic problems. Because Riyadh is growing rapidly: since 1990, the population has doubled to more than five million inhabitants. Siemens equips Lines 1 and 2 of the six lines with Inspiro metro trains, the electrification and the signaling and communication systems for driverless operation.  Continue reading Siemens gets green light for gigantic intelligent transport projects

Developer uses neural networks to build sat-nav that takes the scenic route

Satellite navigation systems are designed to guide a vehicle driver to their destination via the shortest possible route. It’s a principle that will almost certainly be adopted for autonomous cars of the future. 

But what if you wanted to take the scenic route? If the autonomous car you find yourself in doesn’t know the meaning of scenic, which it won’t because they don’t understand “meaning”, you’re unlikely to leave the not-so-picturesque highways and byways of the urban jungle. And today’s sat-navs won’t have a clue what you’re talking about either.

Now, fret no more because a group of developers in Germany have utilised neural networks and Google Street View to create an app that can guide you or your autonomous vehicle to your destination via the most visually interesting routes available.  Continue reading Developer uses neural networks to build sat-nav that takes the scenic route

Porsche CEO rejects autonomous cars, but his tech director’s comments suggest interest

porsche mission e
The Porsche Mission E, the company’s first all-electric model, scheduled for launch at the end of the decade
Luxury sports car maker Porsche could be going past a big road sign that says “This way to driverless car technology” without even slowing down because the man in the driving seat is steadfastly keeping his machine on a path which has a long tradition, stretching back to the very earliest days of motoring.

Oliver Blume is not alone among high-end car company bosses in feeling something of a mixture of indifference and incredulity at the current wave of interest in and development of driverless car technology.

The Porsche CEO is adamant the company has no plans to build an autonomous car, saying: “One wants to drive a Porsche by oneself. An iPhone belongs in your pocket, not on the road.” Continue reading Porsche CEO rejects autonomous cars, but his tech director’s comments suggest interest

Autonomous car expert says his enthusiasm for the technology was seen as ‘misguided’

Prof Nick Reed, TRL Academy Director
Prof Nick Reed, TRL Academy Director

One of the UK’s leading experts in the field of autonomous cars says his enthusiasm for the technology was seen as premature and misguided by some people.

In an exclusive interview with Robotics and Automation News, Professor Nick Reed, academy director at Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), says he has long believed automation was the way to go.

“Technology moves on at a rapid pace and there were certainly some commentators in the early days who felt that my enthusiasm for vehicle automation as an important topic of research was perhaps a little premature, or even misguided,” says Prof Reed. Continue reading Autonomous car expert says his enthusiasm for the technology was seen as ‘misguided’