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Tesla in fatal California crash was on Autopilot

BBC News

Electric carmaker Tesla says a vehicle involved in a fatal crash in California was in Autopilot mode, raising further questions about the safety of self-driving technology. One of the company's Model X cars crashed into a roadside barrier and caught fire on 23 March. Tesla says the 38-year-old driver, who died shortly afterwards, had activated Autopilot moments before the accident. But they did not say whether the system had detected the concrete barrier. "The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive," a statement on the company's website said.


Uber self-driving crash: Footage shows moment before impact

BBC News

Police have released two videos showing the moments leading up to a fatal crash involving a self-driving Uber car in Tempe, Arizona, on Sunday. In the 14-second video, the autonomous vehicle is seen failing to slow down before hitting Elaine Herzberg, 49, who is walking her bike across the road. One video shows dashcam footage of the impact. Uber has suspended self-driving tests in North America following the crash. In footage released on Wednesday by the Tempe police department, the human Uber operator sitting inside the Volvo appears to be looking down at something while the vehicle is travelling in autonomous mode.


How to control a machine using your mind

BBC News

Imagine being able to make a machine do your bidding with your thoughts alone, no button pressing, typing, screen tapping or fumbling with remote controls, just brain power. Well, this sci-fi scenario could be closer to reality than you think.


Could a hacker hijack your connected car?

BBC News

As more carmakers adopt "over the air (OTA)" software updates for their increasingly connected and autonomous cars, is the risk of hacker hijack also increasing? Imagine jumping in your car but being taken somewhere you didn't want to go - into oncoming traffic, say, or even over a cliff. That may seem like an extreme scenario, but the danger is real. Hackers showed two years ago that they could remotely take control of a Chrysler Jeep. And earlier this year, Tesla boss Elon Musk warned about the dangers of hackers potentially taking control of thousands of driverless cars.


Self-driving pizza delivery cars to be tested in the US

BBC News

How would you like your pizza to be delivered to you in a self-driving car? In the next few weeks the idea is going to be tested on some of Domino's customers in the US city of Ann Arbor in Michigan. The aim is not to test if self-driving cars work, but to see if customers are happy to go out of their homes to collect the pizza from an empty car. The research is being carried out with Ford, which plans to start making self-driving vehicles in 2021. Russell Weiner, the president of Domino's USA, which is based just outside Ann Arbor, said the firm wanted to ensure the delivery of its pizzas this way would be "clear and simple" for customers.


'Self-driving' lorries to be tested on UK roads

BBC News

Small convoys of partially driverless lorries will be tried out on major British roads by the end of next year, the government has announced. A contract has been awarded to the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to carry out the tests of vehicle "platoons". Up to three lorries will travel in formation, with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle. But the head of the AA said platoons raised safety concerns. The TRL will begin trials of the technology on test tracks, but these trials are expected to move to major roads by the end of 2018.


Designing a driving test for driverless cars

BBC News

Driverless vehicles may seem unfamiliar now, but over the coming years you'll start to encounter - or even use them - on a daily basis. Will it mean the end of the driving licence and changes to the rules of the road? It's not uncommon to see a squat white droid trundling along the streets of Greenwich, south-east London, as it delivers takeaway food to the borough's residents at 4mph. In Paris and Helsinki, robot buses are shuttling passengers along city streets, while in Colorado an 18-wheeler truck drove beer 120 miles down a highway - without a driver. Around the world, projects like these are under way to help develop the technology that will ultimately bring driverless cars and other vehicles to our roads.


The one law of robotics: Humans must flourish

BBC News

As so often is the case, science fiction has become science fact. A report published by the Royal Society and the British Academy suggests that there should not be three but just one overarching principle to govern the intelligent machines that we will soon be living alongside: "Humans should flourish." According to Prof Dame Ottoline Leyser, who co-chairs the Royal Society's science policy advisory group, human flourishing should be the key to how intelligent systems governed. "This was the term that really encapsulated what we wanted to say," she told BBC News. "The thriving of people and communities needs to be put first, and we think Asimov's principles can be subsumed into that."


Ocado trials driverless delivery van in London

BBC News

Ocado has shown off a prototype driverless van designed to deliver goods at short distances. The vehicle, a cross between a small milk float and a large tuk-tuk, spent two weeks completing autonomous loops of a two-mile (3km) semi-pedestrianised area of Greenwich, south-east London. The electric CargoPod has a top speed of 25mph and can do 18 miles on a single battery charge. It can carry only eight crates and is not big enough to deliver large orders. "We have chosen it to work specifically in this type of environment, where bigger vehicles are not allowed," said Graeme Smith, chief executive of robotics company Oxbotica, which developed the vehicle.


Petrol stations to go electric

BBC News

Petrol stations and motorway services will be required to install electric charge points, under plans outlined in the Queen's Speech. The measure forms part of a government push to increase the number of electric vehicles on UK roads. The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill also contains plans to push driverless car technology. It includes an extension of car insurance to cover the use of automated vehicles. There are several trials of driverless cars ongoing in the UK.