In October, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission released a report, China’s Industrial and Military Robotics Development, prepared by the Defense Group, Inc. at the Commission’s request. The report examines the development of China’s unmanned industrial, service, and military robotics systems, such as drones and driverless cars, and the economic and national security implications of these trends for the United States.
As autonomous cars begin to hit world markets in pilot tests and other ways, and before the International Federation of Robotics clarifies whether those vehicles are robots or not, two research firms have combined those vehicles with other robots. Their results are below.
The long awaited list of recommendations and potential regulations for robocars has just been released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency that regulates car safety and safety issues in car manufacture. Normally, NHTSA does not regulate car technology before it is released into the market, and the agency, while it says it is wary of slowing down this safety-increasing technology, has decided to do the unprecedented — and at a whopping 115 pages.
Two self-driving car events of note: Uber just began operating a fleet of Volvo self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, and nuTonomy launched the first autonomous pilot taxi program last month in Singapore. Both still require a driver, although he/she will be as hands-off as much as possible.
The vision of many of us for robocars is a world of less private car ownership and more use of robotaxis — on-demand ride service in a robocar. That’s what companies like Uber clearly are pushing for, and probably Google, but several of the big car companies including Mercedes, Ford and BMW among others have also said they want to get there — in the case of Ford, without first making private robocars for their traditional customers.
In this world, what does it cost to operate these cars? How much might competitive services charge for rides? How much money will they make? What factors, including price, will they compete on, and how will that alter the landscape?
In anticipation of the need for LiDAR devices in cars with assisted steering and other self-driving technologies, both Velodyne and Quanergy received funding. Quanergy raised $90 million and Velodyne got $150 million.
At the recent AUVSI/TRB conference in San Francisco, there was talk of upcoming regulation, particularly from NHTSA. Secretary of Transportation Foxx and his NHTSA staff spoke with just vague hints about what might come in the proposals due this fall. Generally, they said good things, namely that they are wary of slowing down the development of the technology. But they said things that suggest other directions.
Robin Chase wrote an article wondering if robocars will improve or ruin our cities and asked for my comment on it. It’s a long article, and I have lots of comment, since I have been considering these issues for a while. On this site, I spend most of my time on the potential positive future, though I have written various articles on downsides and there are yet more to write about.
Robin’s question has been a popular one of late, in part a reaction by urban planners who are finally starting to think more deeply on the topic and reacting to the utopian visions sometimes presented. I am guilty of such visions, though not as guilty as some. We are all seduced in part by excitement of what’s possible in a world where most or all cars are robocars — a world that is not coming for several decades, if in our lifetimes at all. It’s fair to look at the topic from both sides, as no technology is 100% good.
At the recent AUVSI/TRB symposium, a popular research topic was platooning for robocars and trucks. Platooning is perhaps the oldest practical proposal when it comes to car automation because you can have the lead vehicle driven by a human, even a specially trained one, and thus, resolve all the problems that come from road situations too complex for software to easily handle.
Delphi Automotive, the global provider of vehicle electronics components, will begin testing 6 phone-dispatched autonomous taxis in Singapore that will go point-to-point based on customer requests with a goal of providing no-driver-in-the-car service by 2019, and cars without steering wheels by 2022.
Today, I want to look at some implications of Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux which caused some buzz this week. The one part of the plan that I have trouble with is the idea of combining solar generation with battery storage.
The cell phone ride hail apps like Uber and Lyft are now reporting great success with actual ride-sharing, under the names UberPool, LyftLines and Lyft Carpool. In addition, a whole new raft of apps to enable semi-planned and planned carpooling are out making changes.
John McCormac discusses his takeaways from the RSS 2016 Workshop ‘Are the Sceptics Right? Limits and Potentials of Deep Learning in Robotics’ and highlights interesting themes and topics from the discussion.