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Network World -- What with the fervor over autonomous cars, and predictions of the arrival of the machines being anywhere from 20 years to 2 years, as is Tesla CEO Elon Musk's latest projection, many might be forgetting a major development that will become prevalent before any of this self-driving stuff.

That is over-the air (OTA) networked updating of cars. And it will probably end up in the majority of cars within the next 5 to 10 years, pundits say.

One solution: a connected car that can update its software.

Amazingly, only 2% to 7% of current U.S. vehicles “have some capacity for OTA updates,” says Connected Car, a publication that was distributed at the Connected Car Expo in November.

That will change rapidly.

“We are not necessarily changing cars for horsepower anymore, but changing to keep up with technology,” Mahbubul Alam, CTO of Movimento Group, told Connected Car.

Read the rest of the story here:

1-30-2017, Futurism -- Many can’t wait for the day they can just sit back and enjoy a car ride without the hassle of driving, and if Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk has anything to say about it, they won’t have to wait much longer. In a tweeted reply to a question about when Tesla’s enhanced Autopilot system would transition into truly self-driving technology, Musk asserted that cars with full self-driving capabilities are coming in the next three to six months.

Of course, Tesla has already made considerable improvements to its Autopilot software over the last couple of months, addressing the problems that lead to the several crash incidents it suffered last year.

According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as part of its investigation on the May 2016 fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S on Autopilot, these improvements on the software are effective and have already decreased Tesla’s car crash rate by 40 percent.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

USA Today, 9-26-2016, SAN FRANCISCO — Federal regulators, faced with a growing number of self-driving car tests on roads across the U.S., plan to issue a flurry of new guidelines Tuesday aimed at automakers and tech companies.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will require any new tech to meet a 15-point safety assessment, consider new powers to allow administrators to limit the deployment of experimental vehicles, and will issue a model for state self-driving car policies aimed at developing a cohesive set of national regulations.

Officials will solicit public comments on the topic of self-driving car regulations for the next 60 days on the Transportation Department website and plan to update self-driving car policies annually.

"We’re laying it out there, what we care about, and inviting the industry to show us how they meet those standards," Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters during a briefing late Monday. "Some companies haven’t dealt with us, but they’ll learn quickly we can go really deep on these topics. We want the public to be safe."

Why self-driving Ubers are rolling around Pittsburgh

President Obama hammered home his administration's message with an editorial posted late Monday on the website of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh is home to Uber's self-driving car research facility and the first city in which it is testing autonomous vehicles).

"Regulation can go too far," Obama writes. "Government sometimes gets it wrong when it comes to rapidly changing technologies. That’s why this new policy is flexible and designed to evolve with new advances."

He allows that some argue government "should stay out of free enterprise entirely, but I think most Americans would agree we still need rules to keep our air and water clean, and our food and medicine safe. That’s the general principle here. What’s more, the quickest way to slam the brakes on innovation is for the public to lose confidence in the safety of new technologies."

Government officials stressed that they reserve the right to create new rules for the nascent industry, and reiterated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will have the power to "remove from the road" any vehicle whose technology poses a safety risk.

The agency specifically noted that certain semi-autonomous driving systems - "ones in which the human continues to monitor the driving environment and perform some of the driving task" -- may be subject to recall.

While many automakers offer such driver aids, electric-car maker Tesla Motors has been in the spotlight for a few fatal crashes in Florida and China where its Model S sedans may have engaged the car's Autopilot partial self-driving system. NHTSA is investigating the Florida incident.

NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind declined to say whether any action would be taken against the electric automaker.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Traffic Technology -- With a recent study showing that drivers in Europe spend an average of 30 hours every year stuck in traffic jams, Ford is currently developing technology that could make driving in congestion less stressful. The company’s Traffic Jam Assist feature aids the driver by keeping the vehicle centered in the lane, and brakes and accelerates to keep pace with the vehicle in front of it.

The system is among a range of semi-autonomous driver assistance technologies that Ford is developing, as it moves toward the eventual introduction of fully-autonomous vehicles. Activated at the push of a button when a traffic jam is encountered, Traffic Jam Assist identifies the position of vehicles in front using a grille-mounted radar, and the location of lane markings using a front-facing camera behind the windscreen.

The driver can take over at any time by using the pedals, the steering wheel or the indicators. The system also regularly monitors the driver’s interaction with the steering wheel, issuing acoustic and visual warnings if it detects a lack of steering input.

Read the rest of the story here:

Automotive News -- Self-driving cars aren't just possible. They're inevitable.

So says Ray Kurzweil, the inventor and futurist who's now director of engineering for Google.

Indeed, the days when an inexpensive computer outperforms a human at a task such as driving aren't far off, Kurzweil said in a speech last week to the SAE World Congress.

"The price, performance and capacity of information technology -- not every technology -- follows a very predictable path" of exponential, rather than linear, growth, he said. At the current pace of progress, he predicted, a $1,000 computer would be able to "emulate all the computation of the brain" by 2022.

Kurzweil said self-driving vehicles will prove their utility in the marketplace by helping to drastically reduce the number of people injured and killed in accidents, and by freeing people up to do something useful with their commute times.

Moreover, he predicted, the ownership model for cars will change once they're able to drive themselves, potentially shifting to something like the ride-hailing service Uber or the home-sharing app Airbnb, in which consumers are able to access a ride when they wish, without having to own a vehicle.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

WTOP -- Google Inc. revealed Monday that its self-driving cars have been in 11 minor traffic accidents since it began experimenting with the technology six years ago.

The company released the number after The Associated Press reported that Google had notified California of three collisions involving its self-driving cars since September, when reporting all accidents became a legal requirement as part of the permits for the tests on public roads.

The director of Google’s self-driving car project wrote in a web post that all 11 accidents were minor — “light damage, no injuries” — and happened over 1.7 million miles of testing, including nearly 1 million miles in self-driving mode.

“Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident,” wrote Google’s Chris Urmson.

“Cause” is a key word: Like Delphi Automotive, a parts supplier which suffered an accident in October with one of its two test cars, Google says it was not at fault.

Delphi sent AP an accident report showing its car was hit, but Google has not made public any records, so both enthusiasts and critics of the emerging technology have only the company’s word on what happened. The California Department of Motor Vehicles said it could not release details from accident reports.

This lack of transparency troubles critics who want the public to be able to monitor the rollout of a technology that its own developers acknowledge remains imperfect.

John Simpson, privacy project director of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, notes that Google’s ultimate goal is a car without a steering wheel or pedals. This could prevent a person from taking over if a car loses control, making it “even more important that the details of any accidents be made public — so people know what the heck’s going on.”

Delphi’s accident report shows that the front of its 2014 Audi SQ5 was moderately damaged when it was broadsided by another car while waiting to make a left turn. Delphi’s car was not in self-driving mode at the time, company spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said.

Five other companies with testing permits told the AP they had no accidents. In all, 48 cars are licensed to test on state roads.

Read the rest of the story here:

April 26 (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google unit, Ford Motor Co, Volvo Cars and two ride-sharing companies said Tuesday they are forming a coalition to urge federal action on self-driving cars.

The coalition, which also includes Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft, is "to work with lawmakers, regulators, and the public to realize the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles."

The group said David Strickland, the former top official of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will serve as the coalition's counsel and spokesperson.

"The best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards, and the coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving vehicles," Strickland said in a statement.

Sweden-based Volvo Cars is owned by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.

Gizmag -- Researchers have found a better way to crunch the data that GPS-enabled devices use to determine their location. The result could provide a level of accuracy down to the centimeter that's needed in things like autonomous vehicles and other precision tech.

We've seen other efforts to improve GPS location to centimeter-level accuracy using what's called "differential GPS," that makes use of ground-based reference points in addition to satellite GPS data. This latest effort from the University of California - Riverside (UCR) seems similar in that it's basically a software-based approach.

What's perhaps most revolutionary about the advance is not just the improved level of accuracy, but just how efficiently centimeter-accurate positioning is established.

"Achieving this level of accuracy with computational loads that are suitable for real-time applications on low-power processors will not only advance the capabilities of highly specialized navigation systems – like those used in driverless cars and precision agriculture – but it will also improve location services accessed through mobile phones and other personal devices, without increasing their cost," said UCR professor Jay Farrell, who led the research.

Read the rest of the story here:

Law allows autonomous vehicle testing as long as operators obey existing road rules

6-5-2017, Denver Post -- If you’re thinking about developing an autonomous vehicle in Colorado, go ahead. It’s now legal, as long as you obey all of the existing rules of the road, according to legislation that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law Thursday.

“It’s hard to get the right balance between regulation and avoiding the red tape that sometimes stifles innovation,” said Hickenlooper, standing in front of a Chevrolet Bolt EV autonomous test vehicle that was trucked in from Michigan and is on its way for road tests in Arizona. “This is the right balance that allows Colorado to be a hotbed of innovation.”

It wasn’t meant to delve into the nitty-gritty of how autonomous vehicles should operate on the state’s roads. Rather, said sponsor state Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, the new law focused on creating a process that allows for autonomous vehicles to be tested safely.

People in the cars, for example, must still fasten their seatbelts, Hill said.

“We were very clear in writing the law that we’re not changing any of those other laws. Obviously, seatbelts is one of them. Turning indicators, moving aside for emergency vehicles — all of those laws still have to be followed,” Hill said. “If you get into a car and don’t fasten your seatbelt, you’re the one liable. It’s not your car’s job to make sure you as the owner are doing your job.”

The law does require companies who plan to test driverless cars in Colorado to first check in with the state Department of Transportation and State Patrol.

Driverless cars — which use sensors, cameras, GPS and lasers to drive on their own — are being tested on the roads in California, Arizona and Michigan. While most states have pending legislation or have considered rules, Colorado becomes the 17th to pass legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Governors in three other states have issued executive orders related to autonomous vehicles.

“In 2017, 33 states have considered autonomous-vehicle bills and seven states have enacted legislation,” said Amanda Essex, NCSL’s policy specialist on transportation. “State action ranges from establishing a committee to study the technology to developing regulations regarding the operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads. The number of states considering legislation has increased each year since 2012, and at least 41 states have considered legislation addressing autonomous vehicles in the last five years.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

4-18-2017 -- A growing percentage of people say they don’t trust self-driving car technology, according to a J.D. Power study. Falling confidence in all age groups — with the exception of Generation Y drivers born from 1977 to 1994 — poses a challenge to automakers and suppliers who want to roll out the capability in coming years, the study authors say.

The 2017 U.S. Tech Choice Study was released Tuesday at an Automotive Press Association meeting in Detroit. It found that compared to its 2016 survey, 11 percent more Gen Z consumers (those born from 1995 to 2004) and 9 percent more pre-boomers (those born before 1946) say they “definitely would not” trust the systems that control robotic cars. The survey found 22 percent of Gen Z consumers don’t trust autonomous technology; nor do 34 percent of Gen X (born from 1965 to 1976), 44 percent of boomers (born from 1946 to 1964) and 49 percent of pre-boomers.

J.D. Power could not explain why Generation Y bucked the trend; 17 percent don’t trust the technology, down from 18 percent in 2016.

The research company found consumers in general are concerned about the added complexity, as well as privacy issues and the possibility of a car being hacked, said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and human-machine interface research at J.D. Power.

Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at the California-based research firm, says the industry has reached a watershed moment: Consumers don’t seem willing to give up the steering wheel and brake pedal to a computer.

“The technology is advancing really, really quickly. But the key question for our industry is how does the industry lead consumers into this new world?” Sargent said. “The engineering will get there, can we take consumers with us? Can we kind of carry them over this river of doubt, this fear and frankly lack of understanding, and take them over to the other side?”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Business Insider, 1-17-2017 --Nissan will begin self-driving car tests in London next month, according to Reuters.

The tests mark the first conducted by the Japanese automaker on public roads in Europe, and will utilize modified versions of the Nissan LEAF electric car.

London has established itself as one of the more popular autonomous vehicle public test sites, possibly due to the challenging nature of the city’s roads, which offer a difficult test and prime data-gathering opportunity for the automaker.

London is quickly becoming a hub of self-driving car tests. In addition to this forthcoming test, the following tests have been announced or begun:

  • In early 2015, certain localities on the outskirts of London and around England moved to permit self-driving tests. The trials were to last around 18 to 36 months, though none were to be conducted on public roads.
  • Volvo will deploy unmarked self-driving cars in the city sometime in 2018. This is particularly noteworthy, as the vast majority of autonomous cars on the roads until this point have some sort of special marking on them, perhaps making consumers behave differently around them.
  • Driverless shuttles deployed as part of Greenwich’s Gateway program were unveiled in early 2016. The larger project is part of a public-private partnership with the city in the Greenwich area.

This is likely a result of London’s relatively diverse roadways. The city has wide main streets along with windy, centuries-old roads. Further, unlike tests in the US, the AI powering the vehicles tested needs to adapt to driving on the left side of the road. To perfect the systems behind self-driving cars, it's best for them to be exposed to as many different environments as possible.

However, it's still unclear if London will remain a leader moving forward. The US federal government and certain individual states are increasingly signaling that they will become friendlier to autonomous cars, which could prompt companies to test in the US rather than the UK. Further, it's still unclear what impact Brexit will have on companies angling to test and eventually sell autonomous vehicles in the UK. 

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on self-driving cars that examines the major strides automakers and tech companies have made to overcome the barriers currently preventing fully autonomous cars from hitting the market. Further, the report examines global survey results showing where fully autonomous cars are highly desired.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Three barriers have been preventing fully autonomous cars from hitting the road: 1) high technological component prices; 2) varying degrees of consumer trust in the technology; and 3) relatively nonexistent regulations. However, in the past six months, there have been many advances in overcoming these barriers.
  • Technology has been improving as new market entrants find innovative ways to expand on existing fully autonomous car technology. As a result, the price of the components required for fully autonomous cars has been dropping.
  • Consumer trust in fully autonomous vehicle technology has increased in the past two years.
  • California became the first US state to propose regulations. California's regulations stipulate that a fully autonomous car must have a driver behind the wheel at all times, discouraging Google's and Uber's idea of a driverless taxi system.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Tech Insider -- Taking a ride in a fully autonomous car may not be as far off as you think.

Autonomous cars are only about five to 10 years away from becoming mainstream, according to Gartner’s 2015 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, which was published Tuesday.

The research firm’s annual report places autonomous vehicles at the peak of its hype cycle, which is when expectations for the technology are often inflated and many companies are jumping into the space.

Last year, autonomous vehicles were still categorized as pre-peak on Gartner’s hype chart. And while the tech is still in its nascent stages, it’s move to forward in the cycle is significant. 

“While autonomous vehicles are still embryonic, this movement still represents a significant advancement, with all major automotive companies putting autonomous vehicles on their near-term roadmaps,” Gartner said in a press statement.

There’s no question there are plenty of players betting on driverless cars.

2/22/2016, CRN -- The future of autonomous, self-driving vehicles may lie in the technology of vehicle-to-vehicle communications, according to one expert.

National Highway Traffic Safety Association administrator Mark Rosekind spoke at MIT on the realities of self-reliant vehicles, and said the ability for vehicles to communicate with one another in an instantaneous fashion is crucial to ensuring the safety of passengers.

 “Connected vehicles give you further lines of safety that you couldn’t get from an independent, autonomous vehicle,” Rosekind said.

For example, before all vehicles become self-reliant, a self-reliant smarter car could communicate to other vehicles about what may lie around a corner or three football field lengths ahead in traffic. That sort of communication can extend to an entire smart city Internet-of-Things (IoT) ecosystem.

“It’s not just talking to cars, it’s talking to the infrastructure, it’s talking to pedestrians. There’s just a lot of opportunity there,” he said.

However, that sort of innovation can only happen if cars from different brands can communicate with one another, so the technology may need to come from government policy.

Read the rest of the story here:

12-5-2017, Los Angeles — The traffic on California freeways outside the Los Angeles Convention Center is relentless. So it’s fitting that automakers are thinking big at the Los Angeles Auto Show about autonomous cars that relieve driving stress.

But while the industry agrees on an autonomous, self-driving future, the paths that automakers are taking to get there vary from Audi to Tesla to General Motors to Toyota.

Audi made headlines this week with the U.S. introduction of its flagship A8 sedan with Traffic Jam Assist, the first so-called Level 3 autonomous system that lets the car take full control from the pilot. It will drive itself under 37 mph, allowing drivers to disengage from the car to check email, text and engage in other distractions.

Cadillac debuted its similar “SuperCruise” system this fall on the brand’s flagship CT6 sedan. It will also be hands-free, but is considered a Level 2 system because its still requires driver attention on a defined network of divided, limited-access highways. GM’s Chevy division is testing a fleet of autonomous Bolt EVs equipped with LIDAR sensors that allow fully-autonomous, Level 4 capability.

And then there’s Toyota. In contrast to America’s colossus GM, the Japanese giant has kept a low profile. But with the LA show it’s starting to show its hand.

Lexus, Toyota’s premium brand, introduced the latest version of its Lexus Safety Sense system, LSS+A, on Tuesday to the media. Building on previous systems that automatically brake to mitigate impact with other vehicles or pedestrians, LSS+A takes a big step toward autonomy by steering and braking to a stop to avoid impact. The Level 4-like feature only works when the driver is disengaged.

It’s Toyota’s mantra that self-driving cars should be about safety first. But the modest LSS+A masks a larger, more aggressive autonomy program.

“They are creating a path to much more advanced autonomous-driving technology,” says Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer.

He’s referring to the confluence of two Toyota autonomy streams by 2020: Toyota’s “Mobility Teammate” hands-free driving system for consumer cars and a fully autonomous ride-sharing service for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games for which Toyota is the exclusive transportation partner.

C3 Report -- If the thought of self-driving cars is unsettling to some, then the prospect of autonomous big rigs may seem downright scary. But the idea came closer to reality this week when Daimler’s Freightliner commercial truck division introduced the first self-driving semi in the U.S., and announced that it had received a license from the state of Nevada to test the vehicle on public roads.

Before you envision robot big rigs roaming the highways, you should know that Daimler estimates that it will be at least 10 years before its self-driving 18-wheeler will be ready for the road. And the Freightliner Inspiration Truck that the company unveiled in Las Vegas is far from fully autonomous. But like self-driving cars, autonomous trucks will one day be common. The benefits of the technology are too numerous to not become part of the transportation future.

The Freightliner Inspiration Truck that debuted at a press event this week—which drove across the Hoover Dam as part of a publicity blitz—uses technology already available in vehicles from its sibling Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Steering Assist is part of Mercedes-Benz’s Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control system, it uses a radar sensor to maintain the distance to a vehicle ahead and a camera to detect markers on the road to keep the car in its lane.

The difference between Mercedes-Benz Steering Assist and the technology on the Freightliner Inspiration Truck is that a C-Class has sensors in the steering wheel to detect whether a driver’s hands are on the wheel. When a driver removes his or her hands for more than a few seconds, the system issues an alert. And if the driver doesn’t grab the wheel after a few more seconds, the Steering Assist system is deactivated.

The Freightliner Inspiration Truck doesn’t have the steering wheel sensors, so the driver can operate the vehicle hands-free until the system detects a situation such as an intersection or slow traffic ahead, warns the driver, and eventually deactivates the system.

The Freightliner Inspiration Truck isn’t a true self-driving vehicle like the futuristic Mercedes-Benz F-015 Luxury in Motion concept the automaker unveiled at CES. But it is a first step on the path toward autonomous big rigs—and will offer substantial benefits. As Daimler board member and head of the company’s Trucks and Buses division, Wolfgang Bernhard, noted at the Las Vegas debut of the Freightliner Inspiration, the main advantages of the technology are saving lives, emissions, and money.

Bernhard noted that 90 percent of crashes can be prevented by autonomous technology because it can significantly reduce accidents caused by driver distraction and drowsiness. He also said that autonomous technology will create significant fuel savings and in turn reduce emissions.

Daimler officials also suggested that the increased efficiency enabled by of autonomous trucks could help lower the cost of consumer goods. In 2012, semis transported about 70 percent of all freight in the country, and the global trucking industry is expected to triple by 2050. A side benefit is that the driver can be more productive behind the wheel, handling logistic and maintenance issues on the fly.

Martin Zeilinger, director of Advance Engineering for Freightliner, said that the driver and the technology “will be a partner” and that a “skilled driver is an essential part of the equation.” After all, the technology simply allows the driver to somewhat disengage on long highway stretches, and can’t perform complex maneuvers such as parking.

Read the rest of the story here:



Washington Post -- When self-driving cars begin zipping through Northern Virginia this year, they won’t need any special registration, and the testers sitting behind the wheel won’t need a special license. In the eyes of the law, they’ll be regular cars.

Virginia is one of a handful of states seeking to attract the potentially lucrative business of developing self-driving cars. And along with a few other states, its lawmakers and regulators are inclined to welcome the industry — and get out of the way.

California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize automated vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of those, two have set out detailed regulations.

In states such as Virginia and Texas, however, self-driving cars can hit the roadways thanks to a simple argument: Doing so is legal because the law doesn’t say otherwise.

“Automated vehicles are probably legal,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina law professor whose research helped advance that interpretation. “That is the default assumption.”

That’s the view Google took this summer when it put driverless, retrofitted Lexus SUVs on the road in Austin, the first time the tech giant has run tests outside of California. Texas transportation officials say they are not involved with the project.

And on the strength of that argument, auto parts maker Delphi took a prototype on a cross-country trip from San Francisco to New York, passing through 15 states, nearly all of them lacking laws that address autonomous cars.

Read the rest here:

NY Times -- It is not every day you get to open a door and step into the future.

But to pull the handle on a newly updated Tesla Model S this week and slide into the driver’s seat was to catch a glimpse of the auto industry’s plans to soon let cars drive us, rather than the other way around.

The updated Tesla, an already high-tech electric car that starts at about $75,000, was equipped with what the company calls Autopilot — a semiautonomous feature that allows hands-free, pedal-free driving on the highway under certain conditions. The car will even change lanes autonomously at the driver’s request (by hitting the turn signal) and uses sensors to scan the road in all directions and adjust the throttle, steering and brakes.

It is the first time that a production vehicle available to consumers will have such advanced self-driving capabilities. Or more to the point, the first time they will be unleashed for driving 70 miles per hour along twisty, though clearly marked, highways for long stretches. (Other manufacturers like Volvo and Mercedes-Benz recently introduced their own semiautonomous features, but limit the functions to lower speeds or require the driver to constantly touch the wheel.) And it’s perfectly legal. Among the states, only New York has any law prohibiting hands-free driving.


Thursday morning, Tesla owners woke up to discover that their vehicles can wirelessly download the new autopilot feature as a software update. That means the next time you see a Model S cruising next to you on the interstate, look closely: It may be driving itself.


Autopilot is not free (the download costs $2,500), and it is not yet perfected (clear lane markings are needed, and bad weather can affect its abilities), but it works remarkably well under normal circumstances.

The feeling of gliding autonomously through highway traffic initially feels a bit unnerving, especially on the Washington area’s notoriously congested roads. But on a recent afternoon while testing Tesla’s autopilot, that feeling faded as I began to trust the car to keep its lane along the twisty highway that hugs the Potomac River in Virginia.

One of the most soothing aspects of the system was how natural the steering felt through the turns. To mimic a human driver is one of the big challenges automakers face in designing self-driving cars. That is because computers can be so perfect that they may constantly adjust to stay exactly in the middle of a lane, resulting in a lot of little jerky motions of the wheel that feels unnatural. Not the Tesla. It was silky smooth.

That does not mean, of course, that drivers can simply relax and let their minds wander. The car is skilled at keeping its lane, but when lane markings disappear or are significantly faded, you have to take over.

Similarly, when heading through construction zones, or when traffic is merging, the human driver is wise to keep full control. If you are in the right lane of a highway and cars are merging at slower speeds, most drivers want to move over a lane and go around them. But the Tesla does not know that. It will instead automatically slow to match the slower speeds of the merging cars.

Read the rest of the story here:

8-21-2017, Engaget -- Toyota is teaming up with Intel, and an assortment of tech and automotive firms, to develop an ecosystem for connected cars. By sharing self-driving vehicle data, the companies aim to develop maps and improved driver assistance systems based on cloud computing. Rounding out the alliance (dubbed the "Automotive Edge Computing Consortium") will be Ericsson, Japanese auto parts-maker Denso Corp, and telecoms firm NTT DoCoMo.

Practically everyone is wading into the autonomous car space. And, collaboration between firms is just as common. Alphabet's Waymo, and GM, are buddying up with Lyft. Renault is cozying up to Nissan. And China's search giant Baidu is targeting, well, everyone. And that's just a smattering of the team-ups currently taking place. Toyota itself also recently hooked up with Mazda to build a US assembly plant for EVs and self-driving cars.

Read the rest of the story HERE., 6-1-2017 -- At Consensus 2017 on Monday, Toyota announced a plan to use blockchain to amass driving data that will help them development driverless cars. The move could also decrease insurance costs for drivers, as well as pave the way for new carpooling solutions. Chris Ballinger, chief officer of Strategic Innovation at Toyota, said in a statement from the company:

Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles…Blockchains and distributed ledgers may enable pooling data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal, thereby bringing forward the safety, efficiency, and convenience benefits of autonomous driving technology.

Customers will have access to their own data, Toyota confirmed. If the information derived from sensors in a car is stored in a blockchain, customers will be able to give their insurance companies “increased transparency to reduce fraud, plus granting them access to driving data to measure safe driving habits,” Toyota wrote in the statement. Neha Narula, director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, said in the statement that she was “excited Toyota is spearheading this initiative that uses blockchain technology to create an open platform where users can control their driving data.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

March 9, 2016, -- The storm that rolled through Ann Arbor, Mich., in late November brought nine inches of snow and an experimental opportunity too good to pass up. A team of Ford engineers working to develop self-driving vehicles decided it would be a good time to put their modified Ford Fusion sedans to the test.

Snow, like rain, can be especially tricky for automated vehicles. Precipitation makes it harder for driverless cars to know where they are. Their cameras can’t see lines on snow-covered pavement or in the reflections of puddles. Falling precipitation interferes with radar. Piles of snow make finding the curbs and road edges harder, even for the cars’ laser-powered mapping devices. On top of that, snow is something of a novelty for self-driving cars. Most of them have been confined to sunny locales in states like California, Nevada and Texas, where rain and snow are rarer.

So the Ford team jumped at the chance to test their vehicles in the Michigan winter. Rather than heading to Ford’s proving grounds in Dearborn, they went to Mcity, a 32-acre test track in north Ann Arbor. It’s a shared track that’s operated by the University of Michigan and used by automakers and the state transportation department to try out autonomous and connected cars. Mcity includes elements you wouldn’t expect to find on most test tracks, things like stoplights that broadcast information to vehicles, a railroad crossing, a bus stop, highway on-ramps and gantries, a small hill, gravel roads, sidewalk crossings, stop signs, a simulated tree canopy and overpass, roundabouts, vandalized traffic signs, and a mockup of downtown city blocks.

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