The state of autonomous vehicle safety standard regulation in the US today is between two presidential administrations, with the Trump Administration-era regulations issued Jan. 14 likely to be soon superseded by policies of the Biden Administration. The Trump Administration rules would allow self-driving vehicle manufacturers to skip certain federal crash safety requirements in vehicles not designed to carry people, marking the first major update to federal safety standards to accommodate innovations of driverless technology, according to an account in The Detroit News.This would apply for example to the delivery vehicle from startup Nuro, which has no driver or passengers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated the rule would save automakers and consumers $5.8 billion in 2050. "With more than 90% of serious crashes caused by driver error, it's vital that we remove unnecessary barriers to technology that could help save lives," stated then NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens. On Jan. 25, Steve Cliff, deputy executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, was named deputy administrator of the NHTSA. Ariel Wolf, counsel to the Self-Driving Coalition, said of the Jan. 14 announcement that the NHTSA rule was a "highly significant" development in safety rules for self-driving vehicles.
From writer-director Neil Burger ("Divergent") comes another young adult science-fiction tale, this one of a cruise ship in deep space full of restless teenagers under the supervision of a single adult. Some of the young people find out that the adult is keeping them drugged and docile and forcing them to reproduce artificially. Is that a recipe for YA trouble or what? Just when you thought you could not watch one more film of this kind, here is "Voyagers," a title that sounds enough like "Passengers" (2016) to put you off you spaceship-grown peas and carrots. The story is set in 2063 when Earth is ravaged, and scientists have searched for another planet to colonize.
Kentucky-based Aviation Safety Resources is developing ballistic parachutes for use in aircraft ranging from 60 lbs to 12,000 lbs. The Air Force's Agility Prime program awarded a phase I small business technology transfer (STTR) research contract to Jump Aero and Caltech to create an electronic parachute powered by machine learning that would allow the pilot to recalibrate the flight controller in midair in the event of damage, the company announced on April 7. "The electronic parachute is the name for the concept of implementing an adaptive/machine-learned control routine that would be impractical to certify for the traditional controller for use only in an emergency recovery mode -- something that would be switched on by the pilot if there is reason to believe that the baseline flight controller is not properly controlling the aircraft (if, for example, the aircraft has been damaged in midair)," Carl Dietrich, founder and president of Jump Aero Incorporated, told Avionics International. This technology was previously difficult to certify because of the need for deterministic proof of safety within these complex systems. The research was sparked when the Federal Aviation Administration certified an autonomous landing function for use in emergency situations which created a path for the possible certification of electronic parachute technology, according to Jump Aero. The machine-learned neural network can be trained with non-linear behaviors that occur in an aircraft in the presence of substantial failures such those generated by a bird strike, Dietrich said.
Toyota has launched Advanced Drive, a new driver assistance technology, with the latest Toyota Mirai and Lexus LS vehicles. Advanced Drive is capable of Level 2 autonomy and can free the driver from operating the accelerator, brakes and even the steering wheel -- under certain traffic conditions and with the driver's supervision, that is. It was designed for highway driving only, and like other available assistance technologies today, it doesn't have full self-driving capabilities yet. Advanced Drive uses data from the vehicle's telescopic camera and LiDAR, as well as information from high-precision maps to detect other vehicles in the same lane. So long as a driver sets the destination in the navigation system, the technology will be able to assess situations and make decisions when it comes to changing lanes, maintaining distance from other vehicles, navigating lane splits and overtaking other vehicles.
In the US alone, the American Trucking Association estimates there are more than 3.5 million truck drivers on the roads, with nearly 8 million people employed across the wider industry. Census Bureau statistics show that trucking is the most common job in 29 US states, ahead of farming, teaching and secretarial positions.
Toyota Motor Corp. announced Thursday its launch of new models for its luxury sedan Lexus LS and hydrogen-powered Mirai equipped with assistant technologies that allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel in designated lanes. The new LS went on sale Thursday at a price starting from ¥16.32 million ($148,800). The Mirai will be sold from Monday, priced from ¥8.45 million, the company said. The autonomous driving technology equipped with the new models is a level-2 assistant system that could help with driving on an expressway or other motor-vehicle-only roadway. The technology can help with keeping the vehicle in its lane, maintaining the distance from other cars and navigating a lane splitting.
According to a new study in the journal Nature Materials, researchers from Stanford University have harnessed the power of machine learning technology to reverse long-held suppositions about the way lithium-ion batteries charge and discharge, providing engineers with a new list of criteria for making longer-lasting battery cells. This is the first time machine learning has been coupled with knowledge obtained from experiments and physics equations to uncover and describe how lithium-ion batteries degrade over their lifetime. Machine learning accelerates analyses by finding patterns in large amounts of data. In this instance, researchers taught the machine to study the physics of a battery failure mechanism to design superior and safer fast-charging battery packs. Fast charging can be stressful and harmful to lithium-ion batteries, and resolving this problem is vital to the fight against climate change.
NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter photographed by the Perseverance rover on 5 April The first drone on another world is ready to fly. The Ingenuity helicopter is primed to lift off from the surface of Mars on 12 April, which will be the first powered flight on another planet. NASA's Perseverance rover, which launched in July 2020 and arrived on Mars on 18 February, carried the Ingenuity helicopter folded up in its belly. After the rover landed, it dropped Ingenuity onto the ground and drove off so the drone could ready itself for its first flight. "It has survived launch, it has survived the journey through space, the vacuum and radiation, it has survived the entry and descent and landing onto the surface on the bottom of the Perseverance rover," said Bob Balaram at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Ingenuity's chief engineer, during a 23 March press conference.
On Earth, humans put more than a century of work into the art of flying. On Mars, we're just getting started. NASA's four-pound helicopter, Ingenuity, touched down on the the surface of Mars on April 3 and will begin test flights in early April. It will be the first time humans have flown anything on another planet. In a nod to the Wright brothers' first flight, it's carrying a tiny piece of the plane that flew at Kitty Hawk.