DailyDirt: Autonomous Vehicles

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Autonomous vehicles are getting better and better all the time as their software learns to navigate all kinds of terrain. Commercial airlines have been using autopilot systems for years, but nowadays more autonomous cars could be driving next to humans. It's either a really scary idea or a brilliant new way to commute. Here are just a few more links on robot vehicles that are being set loose.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2012 @ 10:10pm

    But with added parts to sense and control the car's movement, would $500 still be enough? If the parts are crude the sensors can't reliably deliver information required to control the car.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Kiersten Gurry, 13 Feb 2012 @ 10:56pm

    Can't wait!

    Just imagine - checking the kids' homework as you drive to school together - in an autonomous car!! Next, let's work on developing "Rosie" from the Jetsons!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Pixelation, 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:08pm

    In Afghanistan helicopter drives you!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Michael Ho (profile), 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:14pm


    I don't think they're counting the automation software/hardware against the cost of the lemon racer... but that said, drivable lemons exist for ~$200 so the automation hardware shouldn't push the cost of the car over the $500 limit..?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Mekhong Kurt (profile), 21 Feb 2012 @ 12:10am

    Driverless vehicles

    Though I'm very much for this kind of vehicle in principle, I'm not convinced of their safety, at least in heavy traffic.Comparing a driverless ground vehicle to an airplane on autopilot isn't really a valid comparison, since the flight safety regulations are far more stringent than traffic laws are. For example, aircraft are required minimal lateral and vertical distances from the nearest other aircraft, substantial distances, particularly horizontally (three miles, as I recall a commercial pilot telling me, I think). I suppose if a driverless vehicle was programmed to maintain a safe distance between itself and the car in front of it (in any lane, where more than one lane flows in the same direction) I might feel better, but I haven't read about any such feature. (It may be there and I simply don't know about it, true.) Bettering the rule of thumb, I'd say a minimum of 1.5 average car lengths for each 10mph speed, with a vehicle moving ever slightly back as its speed picked up, rather than a sudden increase after 10 more mph have been added. 2X's would be even better, IMO, a not entirely uninformed opinion, as I drove an 18-wheeler after taking a three-week training course, one driving on a converted airstrip, another week devoted to over-the-road driving with an instructor, plus I took high-speed driving training when I was in police-security work years ago. Stopping a fully-loaded 18-wheeler from 60mph with just six 18-wheeler lengths between me and a vehicle in front of me is a very iffy matter, if it's even possible. In that case, we're talking in the range of 100 yards.

    I have read of potentially using driverless engines to pull elevated trains and subways at the city level, and that makes considerable sense. Especially if such a system includes constant human monitoring by someone with the ability to shut down the train immediately should the "autopilot" fail in any way. That might help us gradually increase our comfort level with the idea.

    Good article, Mr. Ho -- thanks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Mekhong Kurt (profile), 21 Feb 2012 @ 12:15am

    Re: Driverless vehicles

    I forgot to add that at 60mph, you're traveling at about 88 feet *per second.* Which means you have 3.4 seconds to stop before impact. And part of that will be lost to varying reaction times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Michael Ho (profile), 22 Feb 2012 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Driverless vehicles

    you're very welcome... I think we're all wise to question the safety of autonomous vehicles on the roads when they could be easily turned into "road missiles" w/o suicide drivers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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