The participation of Toyota sends a signal that automakers are taking autonomous vehicles seriously, experts say. "Having someone like Toyota, with that kind of industry pull, is a very important step," Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for AutoPacific Inc., told Design News. "Google is one thing. But having a big automaker exploring this is another." Sullivan added that he has seen and photographed Toyota's autonomous vehicles being tested near its research center in Ann Arbor, Mich.
A Lexus equipped with a 360-degree LIDAR (light detection and ranging) laser on its roof can detect objects as far away as 70 meters. (Source: Toyota Motor Corp.)
Up to now, the most notable driverless cars have come from outside the auto industry's original equipment market. In the Defense Department's 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, five cars developed by research teams independently traversed a 140-mile course, including mountain roads and hairpin turns. In the 2007 Urban Challenge, six more vehicles finished successfully. Google's autonomous cars are also said to have logged more than a quarter-million driverless miles.
Still, technical challenges remain if driverless cars are ever to become products. Designers of driverless vehicles have previously told Design News that GPS systems don't update quickly enough, and must be augmented by supporting technologies, such as inertial sensors. Driverless cars are also still "learning" to determine what's in front of them, and whether it's time to stop or go.
Sullivan said that the challenges will have to be addressed over many years. "The big thing will be getting consumers to trust this technology," he told us. "A lot of them still have issues with their phones and computers, so how can we expect them to trust an autonomous car?"
"There is an application for this in places that have private roads in wilderness areas, tunnels, etc., but NOT on public roads"
Rigby5, I think it's a general mindset of peoples, about the security concerns. I don't think there is any need of fear about it. Auto navigation systems will take care about colloid free journey even in busy streets.
Good point about the driverless trains, but you have to remember that is on a track and there aren't other trains (or cars) around also driving to create possible interference or cause an accident. I guess I didn't think about the idea of a commute...it seems like a good idea if a car can just be programmed to go on a set path and follow a route while the driver can kick back and relax. But then I see a future with cars all moving on tracks and everything being automated and predictable...again I tink it takes the fun and spontaneity out of driving. But that's just me!
Charles, quiet sometime I read the same from Google in Canada. Any updates about that. I think such vehicles will helps to reduce accidents and can offer safe journeys. So far we had seen only driving assisting systems only.
There is an application for this in places that have private roads in wilderness areas, tunnels, etc., but NOT on public roads.
Sensors, decision making software, circuits, etc. are never going to be reliable enough, and the self accelerating Toyotas should have already convinced everyone to minimize electronic involvement. Everything that can be done by humans, should be done by humans. It is likely to be more than a century before this could ever be both reliable and cheap enough to be of use on public roads, and it may never be acceptible.
The human brain has too many connections to sensing mechanisms to expect a series of man-made devices to duplicate. Therefore if we expect to successfully develop a driverless car, we need to establish a control environment for it to operate within.
Imagine a freeway system designed to accept driverless cars. It must have destination lanes, lanes allowing the vehicle to enter the correct traffic lane. Lane changes must be controlled by establishing a speed and spacing control for each traffic lane. All of this can be controlled by satellite communications. There is an immediate problem with a factor known as peristaltic effect, or adding to a fixed series of moving lines without spreading them. The new vehicles must combine with the existing lines without making them wider. This requires controlling the beginning spacing based on the anticipated additions. Destinations must be entered in advance so that all calculations of traffic flow can be control planned. A reservation system could be used for a fixed length of travel but it must be maintained by each traveler.
Problems require solutions and with our current calculating capability, I am certain a solution could be forthcoming.
At many airports you ride in driverless trains, and have been doing so for decades. While a much simpler case, there is still the potential for error and human loss. Somebody figured out the legal side of that, along with the technology.
I agree that driving can be fun; on the other hand sometimes a bus or train ride is really fun to relax, do some reading, have a real conversation, etc. and still get where you need to go. Think about all the other technologies that have become "personal" (i.e., all the power in your smart phone, for example) and consider that many people will welcome the idea to hop in the car and tell it where to go, then sit back. For them, it will be more enjoyable than the bus.
@naperlou--perhaps there is a relationship between the sophistication of the processor and the number of sensors required. The human has hands and feet as actuators (and maybe voice for some functions) and eyes, ears, pressure, and touch (for vibration, g-force, etc.). However, the human has the brain. Fast microprocessors in the autonomous system can't match the intelligent processing of the brain. Solution? Add more sensors to break up the input into more digestible chunks and write multi-variable models to try and account for everything.
In the last month, Toyota agreed to pay about $1.1 billion to settle the class action lawsuit over unintended gas-pedal acceleration. Wonder if that will indirectly factor into the development of this technology.
Two problems I see are litigated responsibility for accident injuries and consumers giving up their spot behind the wheel. We're in love with our cars and it will take a lot to get us to turn them over to computers.
Time was when sports equipment was made only from common, everyday, low-tech materials. But now sports equipment has a new, high-tech ingredient that is helping players take their game to the next level.
A humanoid diving robot has recovered treasure from the wreck of French King Louis XIV's flagship, untouched for nearly 400 years. The bot not only looks somewhat human-shaped, it's also got stereoscopic humanlike vision, artificial intelligence, and haptic force feedback.
Design collaboration now includes the entire value chain. From suppliers to customers, purchasing to outside experts, the collaborative design team includes internal and external groups. The design process now stretches across the globe in multiple software formats.
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