AT&T’s Tech Will Let Cars Talk to Each Other

AT&T

In a push to further its connected car strategy, AT&T announced enhancements to its Vehicle-to-Anything (V2X) platform.

The platform lets cars communicate with each other and also with smart city infrastructures. For example, a car could communicate with another on the road about an approaching vehicle, or a vehicle could interact with a connected traffic light or roadside sign.

AT&T designed V2X with partners Ford Motors and Delphi. The latest enhancement to V2X is extending the range of DSRC communications. DSRC, Dedicated Short Range Communications, allows devices to transmit information, such as location, direction, and speed, to nearby vehicles.

Research shows that the ability for vehicles to interact with each other and with smart city devices could reduce accidents and fatalities on the nation’s roads.

“We’re moving from today’s connected car to a fully autonomous vehicle. Our work with Delphi and Ford will deliver safer, more secure, cost-effective, and efficient solutions to do this,” says Chris Penrose, president of Internet of Things Solutions at AT&T.

AT&T also announced it’s partnering with the American Center for Mobility—a nonprofit organization that tests and develops standards related to autonomous vehicles. The partnership is an effort to speed up development of self-driving vehicles. AT&T will also become the exclusive cellular carrier for the American Center for Mobility until 2020.

Finally, the carrier announced it will integrate its 4G LTE and Wi-Fi services into Honda vehicles in the U.S. and Canada. AT&T’s network will work with the HondaLink apps and services, providing drivers with navigation, streaming radio, diagnostics, and remote lock/unlock abilities.

Telecoms, auto manufacturers, and technology companies are making heavy investments in the autonomous vehicle space. According to a report from Juniper, self-driving car production will hit the 14.5 million mark by 2025.

While the benefits of self-driving cars include reducing and perhaps someday, eliminating fatalities on the roads due to human error, industry-watchers estimate a downside to this new tech; the obliteration of over 4 million jobs in the future.

 

CES 2017 Was All About Incredibly Smart Cars

CES 2017

If there was one, star attraction at CES this year, arguably it was vehicles. Vendors, including Ford, Toyota. Volkswagen, and Nissan gave CES attendees a look into the cars of the very near future.

Artificial intelligence is the power behind the new crop of autonomous, assistive vehicles. These cars not only self-drive, they can read your emotions, make snap decisions in the presence of danger on the road, and can even tell you about the flora and fauna at your destination site.

As one Toyota engineer said during a press event, “It’s now about creating a relationship between people and their cars,” In fact, Toyota built its smart, self-driving car with the Japanese concept of “Aisha: meaning “Beloved Car.”

Take a look at the most jaw-dropping vehicles on display at CES that are slated to go to market within the next 5-10 years.

 

Volkswagen:

 

Image: File Image: File

 

 

Volkswagen’s concept car, the I.D. is a connected electric car that can also drive in fully autonomous mode. At CES, Volkswagen demonstrated it for the first time to the American public, with the vehicle’s full experience brought to life via virtual reality. The production version of the I.D. is planned to launch as early as 2020, with plans for fully autonomous driving by 2025. The car’s autonomy, named I.D. Pilot, is activated by touching the VW logo on the steering wheel, signaling it to disappear into the instrument panel.

 

The car has many human-vehicle interaction features. Upon approaching the front of the car, the car’s front bumper lights, “smile” at the person and its eye-like headlights open and follow the human as she walks back and forth in the front of the vehicle.

I Took Toyota’s New Space Age Car for a Ride

Toyota

A big highlight at the CES 2017 technology show in Las Vegas this year was Toyota’s futuristic Concept-i vehicle.

Truly something out of science fiction, this is less of a vehicle and more of a mobile, robot friend. The car is powered by the latest in Toyota innovation, the artificial intelligence (AI) platform called “Yui.” You don’t just drive this car (or let it drive). You interact with it.

Yui is far more than software, it’s a personality. The AI acts as an interpreter between human and vehicle. With Yui, the Concept-i can self-drive, brake for you when manually driving, and can even tell you how you are feeling while you are driving.

On the Road With Yui

 

This is some seriously high-tech stuff. So, instead of just interviewing a bunch of engineers and marketing people, I was able to road test the Concept-i with Yui as my co-pilot, all through a sophisticated virtual reality demonstration setup by Toyota’s engineers.

The experience started with me creating a profile for Yui to get to know me better. I entered my name and my hobbies in an app.

When I entered the Concept-i, Yui greeted me and then asked me where I wanted to go. By asking, I mean an actual voice emanating from the dashboard.

Yui offered trip suggestions based on the hobbies and activities I liked to do that I had entered into the app. The suggestions appeared in front of me, hovering mid-air in the dashboard area.

I selected my preferred destination simply by talking to Yui. No tapping, touch, or mouse click required. Yui showed me via a map that appeared on the dashboard, the route we would take and how long it would take to reach the destination.

I began my journey in a virtual neighborhood, which was supposed to represent me taking the car from my home. As the trip began, Yui informed me that I had full manual control of the vehicle.

 

AI as Guardian

 

As Toyota representatives told me, the goal is not to relinquish control of driving totally to a machine. Rather, it’s to allow humans the ability to manually drive when they want, say, on a nice day along a scenic coastal highway; and to hand-off driving to the car and software, say, when you are tired, or drunk.

I drove the Concept-i through my idyllic, little neighborhood. Whenever anything dangerous crossed my path, human or another vehicle, Yui, alerted me with a vocal warning and also went into “guardian” mode to handle braking if I was too slow to react.

Once we reached the highway, Yui took over and started driving. Ambient music played, and Yui’s sensors honed in to detect my level of relaxation. My driver’s seat automatically reclined and a massage pad on the seat began kneading my lower back.

Suddenly, a biker appeared from a side trail in front of the car. Yui deftly avoided an accident, braking just enough to avoid the bicyclist but not enough to lurch me forward. Had I been driving in the actual scenario, the outcome would likely have been worse.

What a way to drive! After I reached my destination, Yui informed me of what my emotions were during the course of the trip. Unsurprisingly, I was relaxed and happy for most of the journey.

The Concept-i is a beautiful vehicle. Winged doors open up automatically instead of outward, almost as with a Delorean, but not at as much of an angle. Inside, is a widescreen, 3-D, full-color display that lets you keep your head up looking to the road instead of down at a screen.

Watch the video of my experience riding in Toyota’s Concept-i.

 



Watch a Tesla Avoid a Real Accident Without Driver Intervention [Video]

Tesla

A Tesla Model X driver in the Netherlands captured a dash cam video of the vehicle’s technology successfully predicting an accident two cars ahead on the highway.

From Electrek.co., Hans Noordsij was driving his Tesla when the vehicle alerted him about a danger two cars ahead and applied the brakes before he could react.

Noordsij’s dash cam video shows a small red car in front of his Tesla, rear ending an SUV in front of it. The SUV flips over. In split seconds, the Tesla Model X comes to a full stop, at a safe distance from the accident.

This potentially life-saving technology is Tesla’s new radar processing capability that is part of Tesla’s latest 8.0 version of the Autopilot software for its vehicles. The update was recently pushed out to all Tesla owners with the first generation version of Autopilot, and it will soon be available to those with the second-generation software.

From Tesla’s website, the latest version of Autopilot can, “match speed to traffic conditions, keep within a lane, automatically change lanes without requiring driver input, transition from one freeway to another, exit the freeway when your destination is near, self-park when near a parking spot, and be summoned to and from your garage.”

In the video, you can hear Autopilot’s Forward Collision Warning send out a series of beeps as an alert. It’s clear that the vehicle is aware of the danger up ahead before the human driver.

Autopilot’s radar processing allows a Tesla to bounce a radar signal under a vehicle in front and detect and potentially hazardous situations. Radar is used as a sensor, in addition to the vehicle’s primary camera, and image processing system.

Noordsij posted the video of his Tesla’s autonomous tech in action, writing that his Tesla was “Finally the right one.”

By the way, Electrek.co reports that no one was seriously injured in the accident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can Your Self-Driving Car Kill You?

self-driving car

It’s 10 years from now, and you are riding along in your self-driving car. You could drive manually, but it’s your morning commute; you let the vehicle auto-pilot so you can get a jump on the day’s work.

Suddenly, five children race out into the middle of the street, chasing a ball.

The only way to avoid hitting the children is to swerve into a side concrete wall running parallel to the street—and doing so will likely result in your instantaneous death.

Moral Dilemma of the Self-Driving Car

Should the self-driving car be programmed to protect you at any cost or avoid killing a bunch of kids?

The consensus is that self-driving vehicles will reduce traffic fatalities. However, situations will arise where these vehicles will have to choose between two evils, such as running over pedestrians or sacrificing themselves and their passenger to save the pedestrians.

This dilemma is being explored by researchers from the University of Toulouse Capitole, the University of Oregon, and MIT.

In a scientific abstract, The Social Dilemma of Autonomous Vehicles, researchers conclude, “Defining the algorithms that will help [autonomous vehicles] make these moral decisions is a formidable challenge.”

How Many Feel About the Matter

Researchers also conducted a series of surveys to get an idea of the public’s views on ethics and self-driving vehicles.

  • 76% of participants thought that it would be more moral for autonomous vehicles to sacrifice one passenger rather than kill 10 pedestrians.
  • Those surveyed indicated a significantly lower likelihood of buying an autonomous vehicle when they imagined a situation in which they and their family members would be sacrificed for the greater good.

The abstract also addresses other thorny, ethical issues involving human life and self-driving cars. Some examples:

  • Is it acceptable for an autonomous car to avoid a motorcycle by swerving into a wall, considering that the probability of survival is greater for the passenger of the AV than for the rider of the motorcycle?
  • Should self-driving vehicles be programmed to account for the ages of passengers and pedestrians?

As autonomous vehicles are destined to eventually overtake the roads, “Serious consideration of algorithmic morality has never been more urgent.”

U.S. Department of Transportation Maps Out Plan for Self-Driving Vehicles

Obama-appointed U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will embark on several pilot programs to accelerate the development of autonomous, self-driving vehicles and ensure that they meet safety standards, at the North American Auto Show in Detroit.

[Related: The Best Autos at CES 2016]

“We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transform mobility for the American people,” said Secretary Foxx. “Today’s actions and those we will pursue in the coming months will provide the foundation and the path forward for manufacturers, state officials, and consumers to use new technologies and achieve their full safety potential.”

Specifics of the DOT plans include:

1. Within six months, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will work with the vehicle industry and other involved parties to develop guidelines on the safe deployment and operation of self-driving cars (also known as autonomous vehicles).  The NHTSA will also work to develop a model start policy on autonomous vehicles that offers a path to a national policy.

2. Secretary Foxx is encouraging vehicle manufacturers to submit rule interpretation requests, where appropriate, to help enable tech innovation. For example, BMW submitted an interpretation request that its remote self-parking technology adhere to federal safety standards to which the NHTSA responded.

3. Secretary Foxx is also encouraging manufacturers to submit requests for the exemption authority to allow the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles. This exemption authority allows NHTSA to enable the deployment of up to 2,500 vehicles for up to two years if the agency determines that an exemption would aid in the development of new safety features.

4. Both the DOT and NHTSA are developing new tools for this new era of vehicle safety and mobility and will seek new authority when necessary to ensure that autonomous vehicles; even those without a human driver, are deployable in large numbers when they meet or exceed safety standards.

The plans are in anticipation of the rapidly-evolving self-driving, automated vehicles that were prominently on display at this year’s CES 2016 event and at the Detroit Auto Show.

Futuristic car at CES 2016

A futuristic car at CES 2016 (Image: Samara Lynn)

“NHTSA is using all of its available tools to accelerate the deployment of technologies that can eliminate 94% of fatal crashes involving human error,” said NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind. “We will work with state partners towards creating a consistent national policy on these innovations, provide options now and into the future for manufacturers seeking to deploy autonomous vehicles, and keep our safety mission paramount at every stage.”

The DOT’s plans are part of President Obama’s $4 million investment to accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation via pilot projects.

Autonomous cars and car-sharing services, such as Uber are expected to massively disrupt the auto industry. A report last month from Juniper Research shows traditional automakers losing market share to tech companies, including Google and Apple, over the next ten years. Google already has an autonomous vehicle prototype that is being tested on America’s roads.

Documents have been discovered revealing a self-driving car is in the works from Apple. Ford began testing its new car-sharing service, Ford Credit Link, to compete with services such as Uber and Lyft.