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August 29, 2013 - Image 63

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-08-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Level 1 autonomy, which includes
systems that assist in emergency
situations, such as electronic stability
control, are fairly common. Level 2
autonomy includes features like the
active cruise control in the 2013 Ford
Fusion, which will alert drivers when
they drift out of their lanes or warn
them when it senses the driver be-
coming drowsy. The 2013 Lexus LS
model stops if it detects an imminent
collision while the vehicle is traveling
at up to 24 mph. At higher speeds, it
will slow the car down.
Level 3 autonomy would be a
self-driving car where the driver is
expected to be behind the wheel and
take over driving at times. These
vehicles are being tested on American
highways now

DRIVERLESS CARS

Google's driverless car is being tested
on the public roads of Nevada, Flor-
ida and California. Michigan may be
next to legalize autonomous vehicles
on its roads. Gov. Rick Snyder, this
year, called on the legislature to pass
a bill allowing it. A bipartisan bill
(currently in the state hearings pro-
cess) would require a licensed driver
behind the wheel while testing.
The Google driverless car uses a
complex and expensive system of ra-
dar, cameras, sensors and laser-based
range finders (LIDAR) to detect ob-
stacles. Unlike the Israeli vehicles, the
Google driverless car (which is tested
with a driver behind the wheel), oper-
ates on congested highways, merging
onto freeways, driving safely through
intersections, turning and passing
slower-moving vehicles.
One advantage to such a "driverless"
vehicle is safety Google claims to have
logged more than 500,000 miles in
automated mode without an accident.
(There has been one accident when a
human was behind the wheel, accord-
ing to the company). Google estimates
that self-driving cars could reduce the
annual 30,000 road fatalities and 2
million injuries in the United States by
up to 90 percent.
While Google's driverless car can
detect obstacles and brake faster than
a human, it can't defy physics. The
vehicle can stop within 9 feet at 40
mph compared with 12 feet at 40
mph for a human But if a person
jumps out within 8 feet of the vehicle,
he or she will get run over. An ac-
cident is only a matter of time.
Google anticipates that its vehicle
automation technology could hit the
consumer market in a decade. It will
come with a walloping price tag, how-
ever — $150,000 as it stands now
There are other companies look-
ing to create a cheaper version of the

www.redthreadmagazine.com

The Guardium MK I, one of the autonomous vehicles made by the company G-NIUS that
patrols the Israeli border

driverless car. A team of scientists at
Oxford University has created a sys-
tem operated from a dash-mounted
iPad called RobotCar, according to
a Phys.org report. Its system costs
$7,750 currently, but the team thinks
it can get the price down to as low as
$150. A person will need to be in the
vehicle, however; as the system will
take over vehicle operation only on
routine driving routes.
Here's how it works: The vehicle
makes a 3D map of its surroundings
with forward-facing lasers and stereo
cameras mounted on the front of the
car. The data is routed to a trunk-
mounted vehicle computer, while a
third computer communicates with
the iPad, which delivers information
and commands to the driver.
For example, if RobotCar senses
an obstacle, it slows down and then
brings its speed back up when the
obstacle goes away. If a conflict arises,
the vehicle cedes control to the driver.
If the driver doesn't respond, the
computers bring the vehicle to a slow
stop.
Researchers at Oxford anticipate its
RobotCar technology to be available
in new vehicles within 15 years.
Another manufacturer of au-
tonomous vehicles in Israel says its
technology could be on the road even
earlier, perhaps as soon as 2016.
Mobileye, Israeli maker of ad-
vanced driver assistance technolo-
gies, was founded in 1999 by Amnon
Shashua, a computer science profes-
sor from the Hebrew University of Je-
rusalem. It uses mainstream cameras
that cost only a few hundred dollars
to produce along with computer-
vision algorhythms.
"The idea is to get the best out of
camera-only autonomous driving,"

said Gaby Hayon, SVP for research
and development.
The Mobileye vehicle cannot do
everything the Google driverless car
does, but it can drive in a single lane
at freeway speeds as well as identify
traffic signals, automatically slow,
stop and then return to highway
speeds.
"It's not autonomous driving to
the extent that the driver punches
in a destination and goes to sleep,"
Shashua told the Israeli website the
Marker. "The system is able to as-
sume control for a limited time. The
driver could read a text message or
change a radio station, while giving
the cameras temporary control."
Mobileye currently supplies BMW,
Volvo, Ford, Honda, Hyundai,
Citroen and Mitsubishi with systems.
Next year, Audi, Toyota and Chrysler
will join the list.

CONNECTED VEHICLES

Peter Stone, a computer scientist at
the University of Texas at Austin told
U.S. News that he's working on a new
traffic management system for driver-
less cars.
"Can we do better than human
drivers? That's not really a high bar to
clear," he said. "I believe they will be
significantly safer than human driv-
ers. They won't drive drunk, suffer
from road rage or text while driving."
Before that can happen, a stan-
dard method for cars to "talk to each
other" will need to be developed and
rolled out to the public. The National
Traffic Safety Board has called for
U.S. vehicles to be equipped with that
technology to help avoid accidents.
There is no set standard for "con-
nected vehicle technology," comprised

of wireless components that let ve-
hicles communicate with each other
on the road. First, several challenges
need to be solved, according to the
Alliance of Automotive Manufac-
turers, which says that aftermarket
component systems would need to
be overhauled, state and federal laws
would have to be unified and issues of
liability hammered out.
Last August, the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration began
a yearlong study of 3,000 connected
vehicles in Ann Arbor using WiFi-
like components that send data
messages back and forth and are
able to translate the data into hazard
warnings for drivers.
"Vehicle-to-vehicle communication
has the potential to be the ultimate
game-changer in roadway safety —
but we need to understand how to
apply the technology in an effective
way in the real world," said NHTSA
administrator David Strickland when
the Ann Arbor test was launched.
Dr. Hongwei Zhang, a researcher in
wireless networking at Wayne State
University in Detroit, says the effort
to connect vehicles to each other has
been going on since the late 1990s,
but it's been in the past five years or
so that this technology is being put to
use in the real world.
"There are a host of challenges,"
he said. "Technical issues, privacy
concerns, safety, liability, issues of
who has ultimate control, the car or
the driverf
For autonomous vehicles to be-
come the norm, every road would
need to be equipped with commu-
nication sensors, every other car on
the road would be communicating
its exact GPS location, and LIDAR
sensors on vehicles would monitor for
obstructions.
"It's a long-term goal, but it's not
impossible," Zhang said. "Already, we
have the technology for cars to drive
themselves during the slow stop-and-
go speeds of a traffic jam. Self-driving
cars are coming. It's getting closer
and closer."
Level 4 autonomy the ultimate
in autonomous vehicles (think of the
vehicles Will Smith's character hops
into in I Robot) that don't require any
active participation by the driver are
not on the commercially viable radar
yet. Neither are flying cars, for all
you fans of The .Yetsons — although
the Transition Flying Car prototype,
developed by Terrafugia Inc., recently
took its inaugural flight at AirVen-
ture, an annual gathering sponsored
by the Experimental Aircraft Asso-
ciation, in Oshkosh, Wis. Price tag:
$279,000, and you need a sport pilot
license to drive it. RT



RED TWIT I September 2013 63

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