Skip to comments.The Latest in Self-Driving Cars
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 themselvesa trick GM has demonstrated with its EN-V concept vehiclecould 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 spoteven 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.
Looks oddly familiar.........
For a moment I thought it was a Porta Potty.
Just make it fold up into a briefcase, like on The Jetsons.
I wonder if it has an, “automatic-run-over-child”-feature?
Keepin’ it real..!
Now if they could only make them drive themseles off the lot... :)
Those would make great cones for doing autocross around in my Carrera....
I’d rather walk.
Splittist gold-hoarders and roadsters can stomp on the accelerator and go from 0 to Liaogai in 5 seconds..!
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.
“Take me drunk I’m home.”
The Mach 3 Travel Machine will from hence forth be called the Dalek.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.