Skip to comments.Are We Ready for Robocars? Ford and MIT Think So
Posted on 01/31/2014 3:05:16 PM PST by nickcarraway
Ford is teaming up with researchers from MIT and Stanford to develop automated vehicles. Rather than fear Ford's robocars, we should embrace them. After all, they won't get caught texting, playing with the radio or eating breakfast during the morning commute. And they don't drink, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group.
Our vision of the future often includes flying cars, which exist today but are many years away from widespread use. Another form of high-tech transportation often seen in science fiction films, however, may be a lot closer to reality -- the automated car. Google already has a fleet of computer-controlled vehicles cruising the nation's roads that, for now, have humans along for the ride in case of malfunctions. Now, Ford Motor Co., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University are teaming up to develop vehicles that put more auto in automobile.
Following up the recent release of an automated version of its Ford Fusion hybrid, the automotive giant on Wednesday said the university partnership will explore the long-term "societal, legislative and technological issues" posed by self-driving cars.
"Working with university partners like MIT and Stanford enables us to address some of the longer-term challenges surrounding automated driving while exploring more near-term solutions for delivering an even safer and more efficient driving experience," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford's chief technical officer and vice president of research and innovation.
Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group, said that rather than fear robocars, we should embrace them. After all, they won't get caught texting, playing with the radio or eating breakfast during the morning commute. And they don't drink.
"In most cases the automated car will outperform people," said Enderle. "They dont get distracted, theyll be able to more accurately choose between breaking and avoidance, and they wont do stupid things ... that cause accidents."
Right now, Enderle said the biggest problem with robocars is that they immediately disengage from control when they encounter a problem and hand control over to a human.
"That driver may be dosing, drunk, texting, watching a movie etc., and that likely wont end well," he warned. "In addition they work better when connected and while theyll likely deal with crazy drivers better than humans, the unconnected car will still represent a risk"
Ford's existing Fusion Hybrid research vehicle is just like those in current showrooms, but uses four LiDAR sensors to generate a 3D map of its surroundings.
Peeking Around Corners
MIT is developing advanced algorithms to help the onboard computer predict the motion of other vehicles and pedestrians. Stanford's crew will help Ford work out the kinks of obstacles such as big trucks that can obscure the view ahead and potential risks. Ideally, the computer should be able to determine whether it's safe to change lanes if the truck stops short.
"Our goal is to provide the vehicle with common sense," said Greg Stevens, global manager for driver assistance and active safety, Ford research and innovation. "Drivers are good at using the cues around them to predict what will happen next, and they know that what you can't see is often as important as what you can see. Our goal in working with MIT and Stanford is to bring a similar type of intuition to the vehicle."
There were a couple of great stories back in the Eighties about robot cars that caught a ‘virus’ and ‘mono’ed’, (Carbon Monoxide), their occupants and then drove off into the hinterlands to form roving robot car gangs.
The cautionary tales warn us once again to be careful of what you ask for. You might just receive it.
On the other hand having a car take me to work on long boring commutes where I could sleep in late might be cool.
The problem with this is that we will be forced to use it, can’t have human drivers on the same roads with the automated vehicles.
So it will become yet another issue where the freedom of the majority is taken away because of the needs of a few.
Think of the million$ saved in accidents...and the lives saved.
“the unconnected car will still represent a risk”
And now, for the safety of the children, you may no longer self-drive Mr. Rogers.
(coming sooner than you might like, Millennials)
Audi A7 with self-park feature commercial.
I like the concept of having your vehicle drop you off at the door and then go park itself. If it can’t find a spot, it can just go for a joy ride ‘till it’s time to pick me up.
I hope I’m dead before they put that crap on the road!
It’s too bad that so many people have fixated on hollywood’s dystopian visions of a future dominated by evil machines... So much that they only imagine the downside of great technological advancement. Chances are actually pretty good they’ll be awesome and not evil after all.
Automated driving cars are very possible and very soon could be on the roads. So far they appear to be able to do nearly everything and do it better and more reliably than human drivers. There’s no reason to think they’d be incompatible with human drivers on the same roads. I’d love to be able to sit back and read or do something else while my car does the driving on a long trip, or even to get me home from a bar after I’ve had one too many. It could drop me off where I want to go and then go park farther away. Lots of awesome ways to just be a better way of traveling in cars.
You seem to fear that the elderly will be pushed out of the drivers seat and lose some freedom. Don’t they regain some freedom?
What about the people that have lost their ability to drive themselves, due to eyesight, hearing, cognitive or any number of the issues of aging... That suddenly are just as able as anybody else to get around town without having to rely on help from somebody else? Sounds like an increase in freedom to me.
Count me as a YES as someone in 5 states all the time.
I dream of the day as I drive down the interstate watching my in car video.
I average about 150 miles on the highway every day.
Count me as a HELL NO!!!!!
Then be on the look out for me. If you only knew the number of times I have driven across the southeast half conscious. My slogan is where are my No-Doze