Tag: car

Alphabet sues Uber over self-driving car tech

Old carsAlphabet’s Waymo self-driving car unit sued Uber’s autonomous trucking subsidiary Otto over claims that it stole confidential and proprietary sensor technology.

Waymo claims Uber and Otto nicked confidential information on Waymo’s Lidar sensor technology to help speed its own efforts in autonomous technology.

Waymo’s complaint in the Northern District of California said that Uber’s LiDAR technology is actually Waymo’s LiDAR technology.

Uber said that it is considering the allegations.

Lidar, which uses light pulses reflected off objects to gauge their position on or near the road, is a crucial component of autonomous driving systems.

Previous systems have been prohibitively expensive and Waymo sought to design one over 90 percent cheaper, making its Lidar technology among the company’s “most valuable assets,” Waymo said.

Waymo is seeking an unspecified amount of damages and a court order preventing Uber from using its proprietary information.

Otto launched in May, due in part to the high profile of one of its co-founders, Anthony Levandowski, who had been an executive on Google’s self-driving project.

Waymo said that before Levandowski’s resignation in January 2016 from Google he downloaded over 14,000 confidential files, including Lidar circuit board designs, thereby allowing Uber and Otto to fast-track its self-driving technology.

Waymo accused Levandowski of attempting to “erase any forensic fingerprints” by reformatting  his laptop.

“While Waymo developed its custom LiDAR systems with sustained effort over many years, defendants leveraged stolen information to shortcut the process and purportedly build a comparable LiDAR system in only nine months,” the complaint said.

 

Bloke builds his own open saucy self-driving car

A self-driving car does not have to cost you a fortune if you can get away from the car industry, according to a University of Nebraska student.

According to MIT Technology Review Brevan Jorgenson used open source software to convert his Honda Civic into a high tech self-driving car,

His homemade device in place of the rear-view mirror can control the brakes, accelerator, and steering, and it uses a camera to identify road markings and other cars.

Jorgenson built the lot using plans and software downloaded from the internet, plus about $700 in parts.

He started his project after George Hotz of Comma.ai, a San Francisco startup that was developing a $999 device that could upgrade certain vehicles to steer themselves on the highway and follow stop-and-go traffic.

Hotz was forced to cancel plans to launch the product after receiving a letter asking questions about its functionality from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In November, he released the company’s hardware designs and software for free, saying he wanted to empower researchers and hobbyists.

The whole thing is powered by a OnePlus 3 smartphone equipped with Comma’s now-free Openpilot software, a circuit board that connects the device to the car’s electronics, and a 3-D-printed case. Jorgenson got the case printed by an online service and soldered the board together himself.

Subsequent tests revealed that the Neo would inexplicably pull to the right sometimes, but a software update released by Comma quickly fixed that. Now fully working, the system is similar in capabilities to the initial version of Tesla’s AutoPilot.

Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, says that federal and state laws probably don’t pose much of a barrier to those with a desire to upgrade their vehicle to share driving duties. NHTSA has authority over companies selling vehicles and systems used to modify them, but consumers have significant flexibility in making changes to their own vehicle, says Smith, who advises the US Department of Transportation on law and automation.

UK sorts out insurance for self-driving cars

accidentcarinwashingtondcThe UK plans to introduce new insurance rules to ensure victims of accidents involving self-driving cars are compensated quickly.

The move will remove a major obstacle for the nascent industry. Self-driving car introduction has been hampered by legal hurdles in several countries as insurers and legislators try to establish who would ultimately be responsible in the event of an accident.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling said the public needed to be protected in the event of an incident and the framework to allow insurance for these new technologies will be out this week.

A single insurance product will be available to cover a driver when a vehicle is being used conventionally, as well as when the car is being used in autopilot mode, the transport ministry said in a statement.

The Blighty government wants to encourage the development and testing of autonomous driving technology to build an industry to serve a market it reckons could be worth about $1.1 trillion worldwide by 2025.

Japanese carmaker Nissan is due to test autonomous cars in London later this month after initial tests on public roads in the southern English town of Milton Keynes late last year.

The UK will also set out plans to improve infrastructure such as charging points for electric vehicles, the fastest growing sector for new car sales in the country and key to meeting environmental targets.

Apple sued for not making something

keep_calm_and_love_your_patent_lawyer_2_inch_round_magnet-re8c2c059dc99401ca676f1a1e58344f5_x7js9_8byvr_324Fruity tax-dodging cargo-cult Apple has been sued for not making a product it patented and thus killing a child.

James and Bethany Modisette are suing the toy-maker after a car crash two years ago that killed one of their daughters and injured the rest of the family. The driver of the car who hit them was using Apple’s FaceTime video chat.

The plaintiffs claim that if Apple had implemented technology it received a patent for in 2008 which was “a lock-out mechanism to prevent operation of one or more functions of handheld computing devices by drivers when operating vehicles,” such as texting or video chatting the accident would not have happened.

The complaint cites Apple’s “failure to design, manufacture, and sell the Apple iPhone 6 Plus with the patented, safer, alternative design technology” — in other words, lack of the programme’s inclusion — as a “substantial factor” in the crash.

It is a bold move taking this argument into a court and while we think it is unlikely to that it will go anywhere it does highlight a point. Tech companies patent shedloads of things and then never produce a product with them.  In this case it was a fairly obvious piece of tech which would have saved a life. Apple could easily have incorporated it into the iPhone 6 but it didn’t.

BMW wants to sell 100,000 electric cars next year

BMW BMW wants to boost sales of electric cars by two thirds next year to 100,000 vehicles.

The luxury carmaker, popular with travelling salesmen and officer managers who believe that they own the road, is offering more battery-powered models.

Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger told the German press that BMW expects to increase its deliveries of fully electric and hybrid vehicles to around 60,000 units this year.

Sales of battery-powered BMW models have totalled about 100,000 cars since 2013, he noted.

“Electric mobility will come, but demand is not going through the roof,” the newspaper quoted Krueger as saying.

To help improve sales, BMW is also increasing the battery range of its i3 city vehicle by 50 percent this year. The i3, BMW’s only fully battery-powered car, sold only 25,000 units last year.

The company has fallen behind Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz in global luxury-car sales rankings lately and thinks that increasing its share of electric cars and hybrid models to between 15 percent and 25 percent of sales by 2025 will help.

Human drivers will bully self-drive cars

classic car, wikimedia commonsTechnology experts are starting to worry that human drivers will bully self-drive cars – simply because they can.

While self-driving cars promise to bring increased safety, comfort and speed to our roads. The rest of the road will be populated by men in white vans, BMW drivers and Italians who will make life hell for automated roadsters.

The London School of Economics and Goodyear conducted a study into social attitudes to self-driving technology. Drivers who are more “combative” will welcome the adoption of self-driving technology, because they assume it will be easier to “bully” self-driving cars than actual humans.

Self-driving cars will be programmed to avoid accidents, just as they should be. So given the choice between driving timidly or causing an accident just to prove a point, the self-driving car will slam on the brakes every time. The more aggressive drivers in this survey said that they’d treat self-driving cars like “learner drivers” and mess with their automatic heads.

One respondent he would be overtaking all the time because they’ll be sticking to the rules,” one Another said robot cars are going to stop. “So you’re going to mug them right off. They’re going to stop and you’re just going to nip around.”

So those who really should be self-driving are exactly the sort of people who should not be behind the wheel.  It is only a matter of time before self-driving will require a psyche-test to see if they should be allowed to drive.

 

Germany bans Tesla from advertising Autopilot

NeinNeinNeinNeinGerman Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt has asked Tesla to stop advertising its electric vehicles as having an Autopilot function, as this might suggest drivers’ attention is not needed.

A spokeswoman for the ministry said the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) had written to Tesla to make the request.

“It can be confirmed that a letter to Tesla exists with the request to no longer use the misleading term Autopilot for the driver assistance system of the car,” she said in a written response to a Reuters’ query.

Tesla spokespeople in Germany did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Friday, the KBA wrote to owners of Tesla cars, warning them that their vehicles could not be operated without their constant attention and that under traffic regulations they must remain alert.

According to the BamS report, the KBA letter to Tesla said: “We demand that the misleading term Autopilot is no longer used in advertising the system.”

Tesla’s Autopilot has been the focus of intense scrutiny since a Tesla Model S driver was killed while using the technology in a May 7 collision with a truck in Florida.

 

Germany busts the internal combustion engine

vintage-car-crash-2It seems that Germany has had enough of its cars failing emission testings and is going to ban the internal combustion engine.

The country’s Bundesrat (federal council) has passed a resolution calling for a ban on new internal combustion engine cars by 2030. By then all cars will have to be  electric or running on a hydrogen fuel cell.

It is not legally binding, but the Bundesrat is asking the European Commission to implement the ban across the European Union… so there is a chance it might happen.

The council also wants the European Commission to review its taxation policies and their effect on the “stimulation of emission-free mobility.” It could involve stronger tax incentives for buying zero-emissions cars, but it could also involve eliminating tax breaks for diesel cars in EU states.

It is starting to look like. what ever happens, diesels could be a think of the past.

 

 

Google’s car drives better than a 17 year old

accidentcarinwashingtondcAfter millions of miles of testing, it appears that Googles self-driving AI is a bit better than me the day after I passed my driving test at age 16.

Google announced that its self-driving car racked up two million miles of driving experience. It’s a significant marker for Google — no other company has that many miles of fully self-driving experience.

Google’s head of self-driving tech Dmitri Dolgov said the goal of all that is to build a prefect driver.

In two million miles in four cities, Google thinks it has taught the car to come from a nervous teen student driver who might drive onto the pavement if a truck gets too close (yeah I did) to the equivalent of a more experienced licensed person who drives daily.

Google has been involved in 14 real ones so far, 13 of which were caused by other drivers, which is pretty much what happened to me in my first driving years (one prang where I was rear ended while turning right by a bloke whose breaks had failed).

Apparently the car has reached the point where it does not make sudden stops, unless it really has to.   It also slightly swerves as any expert driver does.

All this is possible because of the mileage that the program has been put through. If you think about it, two million miles in more than seven years is a lot. According to a Google spokesperson, the average human only drives 13,000 miles a year.

 

 

Google wants to create artificial Roman drivers

 

toyotahybrid-20140417113203813 (1)One of the technical challenges of self-driving cars is making the automatic pilots behave like humans and in some cases that means honking the horn.

In Rome, honking the horn has a complex etiquette which often leads to wild gestures and swearwords related to the drivers’ testicles or lack thereof, and the fact that the Virgin Mary might have actually been a pig.

Google is apparently discussing how its cars will communicate with human drivers in other cars to make sure they don’t kill themselves. The strategy, which is teach the autonomous cars how to honk at them, will go down like cold Quinto Quarto.

Google says 94 percent of minor crashes are caused by human error, so to combat this, the Menlo-Park, California-based company’s autonomous cars are going to need to whip us fallible beings into shape by disciplining us when we misbehave.

The company says the point of the honking software is to “recognise when honking may help alert other drivers to our car’s presence — for example, when a driver begins swerving into our lane or backing out of a blind driveway.”

Google said that during testing, it taught our vehicles to distinguish between potentially tricky situations and false positives, i.e. the difference between a car facing the wrong way during a three-point turn, and one that’s about to drive down the wrong side of the road.

“At first, we only played the horn inside the vehicle so we wouldn’t confuse others on the road with a wayward beep. Each time our cars sound the horn, our test drivers take note whether the beep was appropriate, and this feedback helps our engineering team refine our software further.”

Unlike Rome with its single toot which means something like “the light is actually green now you might wish to move” or a long toot which means “If you pull out now I will kill you and all your family and dance on their rotting bodies” Google has come up with various types of honks.

“We’ve even taught our vehicles to use different types of honks depending on the situation. If another vehicle is slowly reversing towards us, we might sound two short, quieter pips as a friendly heads up to let the driver know we’re behind. However, if there’s a situation that requires more urgency, we’ll use one loud sustained honk.”

We will not believe that it is effective until the car automatically winds down the window and extends an automatic fist and another driver.