Drones are flown at a training class in Las Vegas in anticipation of new regulations allowing their commercial use. Drones are flown at a training class in Las Vegas in anticipation of new regulations allowing their commercial use. We are in "one of the most dramatic periods of change in the history of transportation," says Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. He was talking about all of it: the self-driving cars, the smart-city movement, the maritime innovations. The Federal Aviation Administration expects some 600,000 drones to be used commercially within a year.
It's not exactly autonomous, but it works. Nissan believes the fastest way to get driverless cars on the road is to give them remote human support – and it's using NASA technology to do it. Nissan demonstrated its Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) platform at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, which incorporates a degree of teleoperation into the autonomous car system. Although vehicles will be able to drive themselves most of the time, human "mobility managers" can remotely take control in unexpected situations. "Autonomy systems are not simple, it is a very hard problem," says Maarten Sierhuis, director of Nissan's Research Center in Sunnyvale, California.
The whole "fear of SkyNet" trope is a bit moot at this point, seeing as how robots have already infiltrated our roads, skies and cafeteria-style eateries. You can already see it happening with Lyft adding 30 self-driving vehicles to its Las Vegas fleet, Sphero debuting yet another domestic robopanion, and gangs leveraging drone swarms to blindside the FBI. Numbers, because how else are we going to learn to speak the binary language of our future overlords? Turns out, they worked so well that the company is expanding the pilot program to more than two dozen autonomous vehicles. The opt-in program still only delivers passengers between high-demand locations but at least you won't have to worry about making small talk with the driver.
Autonomous-driving company Torc Robotics may not be as well known as, say, Waymo, but that may change soon as Torc looks to expand. The company is looking to nearly double its number of employees in order to continue developing tech for self-driving cars. Torc unveiled its Asimov (named after science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov) autonomous-driving system last year, and gave public demonstrations at CES 2018. The company is headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia, and continues to test self-driving cars there and in Las Vegas. Last year, it sent one of its modified Lexus RX SUVs on a cross-country trip.
Technology built for self-driving cars could be the next step in the US fight against illegal immigrants arriving from Mexico. Lidar, a laser-based detection system, would cost far less to install than a border fence and could alert authorities to people trying to cross the border. Quanergy Systems, a start-up company based in California, presented its Lidar-based system at CES in Las Vegas. The firm claims it is better for the environment, cheaper to operate and'more capable' than Donald Trump's proposed physical wall. His plans for a border wall have been fiercely opposed by Democrats, forcing a shutdown of the US federal government.