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The Latest in Self-Driving Cars
MIT Technology Review ^ | 10-24-2011 | Kevin Bullis

Posted on 10/28/2011 1:20:29 PM PDT by Red Badger

GM demonstrated its EN-V concept vehicle at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year. The small, maneuverable electric vehicles ride on two wheels, like the Segway. They can also be networked and drive themselves. In one demonstration, the vehicles dropped off the driver, and then made their way to a parking spot on their own. GM intends the vehicle especially for megacities such as Shanghai, which is where it unveiled the first slick concept version of the cars.

Several automakers are developing technology to let cars drive themselves, mainly as a way to make driving more convenient and improve safety. But it could also significantly reduce gasoline consumption, says Nady Boules, the director of GM's Electrical and Controls Integration Lab.

Increased automation could reduce congestion, but also allow for radical redesigns of automobiles to make them lighter and more fuel-efficient. Boules says partially automated vehicles that let drivers take their hands off the steering wheel and the accelerator, but still require them to pay attention, could be sold by the end of the decade.

Some cars already have a system that prompts drivers to change the way they accelerate to drive more efficiently. Allowing the car to control acceleration automatically could also save fuel.

But the biggest effects could come with full automation. Cars that park themselves—a trick GM has demonstrated with its EN-V concept vehicle—could save fuel by eliminating the need for drivers to circle the block waiting for a parking space to open up. The ambition is for a car to drop its owner off and go directly to the nearest available parking spot—even if that spot happens to be miles away, too far for the owner to walk. When it's time to leave, the owner notifies the car with a smart phone, and it picks him or her up.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication, which allows vehicles to travel on highways very close together at consistent speeds, could also reduce fuel consumption. If a truck in a convoy brakes, it sends a signal slowing down the following trucks instantaneously. A spacing of four meters reduces wind resistance for the following trucks, and could reduce fuel consumption by 10 to 15 percent, Boules says. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication could also reduce congestion by cutting accidents, coordinating traffic intelligently, and "getting rid of those drivers who accelerate through red lights." The U.S. Department of Transportation is sponsoring work to enable this last goal using sensors in stop lights that can communicate with smart vehicles.

In the more distant future, if automated cars prove as safe as Boules thinks they can be, it could allow engineers to completely redesign cars. "You could remove the weight dedicated to crash protection, using very light materials for the skin instead of metals," Boules says.

Boules believes fully automated cars could be built by the next decade, but admits that new regulations will be needed before they can be sold.

Automakers have been working on vehicle automation for decades, but the work recently got a boost from a DARPA-sponsored contest to develop vehicles that can navigate a simulated urban environment on their own. A team that included GM and Carnegie Mellon University won that contest. Google is also pushing vehicle automation, and has tested autonomous vehicles for over a hundred thousand miles; the company is also reportedly sponsoring a bill that clears the way for automated vehicles to drive on public roads in Nevada.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: automobile; car; energy; yougottabekiddingme

1 posted on 10/28/2011 1:20:31 PM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

Looks oddly familiar.........

2 posted on 10/28/2011 1:21:48 PM PDT by Red Badger (Obama's number one economics advisor must be a Magic Eight Ball.................)
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To: Red Badger

For a moment I thought it was a Porta Potty.


3 posted on 10/28/2011 1:22:31 PM PDT by BIGLOOK (Keelhaul Congress!)
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To: Red Badger
The ambition is for a car to drop its owner off and go directly to the nearest available parking spot—even if that spot happens to be miles away, too far for the owner to walk. When it's time to leave, the owner notifies the car with a smart phone, and it picks him or her up.

Just make it fold up into a briefcase, like on The Jetsons.

4 posted on 10/28/2011 1:22:31 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Red Badger

I wonder if it has an, “automatic-run-over-child”-feature?

Keepin’ it real..!

Sorry.


5 posted on 10/28/2011 1:29:20 PM PDT by gaijin
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To: Red Badger

Now if they could only make them drive themseles off the lot... :)


6 posted on 10/28/2011 1:33:42 PM PDT by Pessimist
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To: Red Badger

Those would make great cones for doing autocross around in my Carrera....


7 posted on 10/28/2011 1:33:53 PM PDT by isthisnickcool (Sharia? No thanks.)
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To: Red Badger

I’d rather walk.


8 posted on 10/28/2011 1:34:23 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: gaijin
Communicates with Chinese city infrastructure, niiiice...!

Splittist gold-hoarders and roadsters can stomp on the accelerator and go from 0 to Liaogai in 5 seconds..!

9 posted on 10/28/2011 1:35:56 PM PDT by gaijin
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To: Red Badger
Driving is one of the most dangerous things we do in the modern world.

Made even more dangerous as more and more people insist on being plugged in to their electronic devices - texting while driving, screens showing sporting events, etc.

Self driving cars are long overdue.

10 posted on 10/28/2011 1:40:38 PM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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To: Red Badger
Soooo, what does MIT say about when someone hacks the onboard computer and runs ya off a bridge? Or when the software crashes and you get the blue screen of death while traveling on the highway?
11 posted on 10/28/2011 1:44:24 PM PDT by redshawk (0pansy is a Liar)
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To: redshawk

BSOD.....SOL.....DOA.......


12 posted on 10/28/2011 1:51:28 PM PDT by Red Badger (Obama's number one economics advisor must be a Magic Eight Ball.................)
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To: allmendream

http://jalopnik.com/5828101/this-is-googles-first-self+driving-car-crash


13 posted on 10/28/2011 1:53:28 PM PDT by Red Badger (Obama's number one economics advisor must be a Magic Eight Ball.................)
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To: Red Badger

“Take me drunk I’m home.”


14 posted on 10/28/2011 1:56:59 PM PDT by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: massgopguy

The Mach 3 Travel Machine will from hence forth be called the Dalek.


15 posted on 10/28/2011 1:58:56 PM PDT by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: Red Badger

Vehicles are manufactured in automated factories.

Soon they will be driving themselves all over the place.

The next step will be automated junk yards.

Then the cars can drive themselves to the junk yards where they are turned into scrap, fed into the factories and become new vehicles.

At that point there will no longer be a use for carbon based lifeforms and the Greenies’ dream of zero population will come to pass.


16 posted on 10/28/2011 2:07:25 PM PDT by Iron Munro ('We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts; I support them.' -- Mitt Romney)
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17 posted on 10/28/2011 2:10:57 PM PDT by TheOldLady (FReepmail me to get ON or OFF the ZOT LIGHTNING ping list)
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To: Iron Munro

The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.
Warren G. Bennis


18 posted on 10/28/2011 2:22:52 PM PDT by Red Badger (Obama's number one economics advisor must be a Magic Eight Ball.................)
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To: Red Badger

Excellent!


19 posted on 10/28/2011 2:40:45 PM PDT by Iron Munro ('We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts; I support them.' -- Mitt Romney)
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To: Red Badger
If they could get my Ford Explorer to parallel park by itself, I'm all in.
20 posted on 10/28/2011 3:06:36 PM PDT by NoGrayZone (Stay involved..because stupid people are running America! - Herman Cain - Amen!!!)
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To: allmendream
I'm a civil engineer and I do a lot of work on projects where highway safety is a major consideration. Reducing motor vehicle accidents is one of the strongest initiatives for governments all over the world.

Interestingly, I don't see the "self-driving car" as the panacea that many people in my industry believe it is. In fact, I've gone out on a limb and suggested that the two most effective measures any government can take to improve motor vehicle safety are:

1. Make it more difficult to get a driver's license.

2. Outlaw the automatic transmission.

The first measure will help get all the idiots off the road. The second measure will make it pretty much impossible for people to do all of those things that we lament as "distractions" for a driver.

Just some food for thought here.

21 posted on 10/28/2011 5:42:03 PM PDT by Alberta's Child ("If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested.")
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To: Alberta's Child
Right now, no.

In 100 years - I think a self driving car - all of them - will be so much more efficient, and a more efficient use of time - that self driving will be on backroads only. Highway on autodriver.

Imagine a stream of cars all efficiently going 100 mph in the fast lane with cars merging effortlessly with mechanical precision.

Then there was the lady in the red sports car I saw not check her blind spot and ‘merge’ with a semi - the trailer of which went up at about a 45 degree angle.

22 posted on 10/28/2011 5:48:04 PM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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To: allmendream

The way I see it, the biggest challenge in introducing that sort of thing is that it can’t be done in stages. It seems to me that there can never be a mix of “self-driving” and “non-self-driving” cars on the road at the same time.


23 posted on 10/28/2011 7:44:36 PM PDT by Alberta's Child ("If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested.")
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