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New study: Humans may falter when taking control of self-driving cars

Popular Science

The research, co-authored by a multidisciplinary group at Stanford University, studied 22 drivers on a 15-second course containing a straightaway and a lane change. The test vehicle, of Stanford's design, allowed researchers to tweak the car's steering responsiveness, a tactic that mimics a key change that may occur when an autonomous vehicle controls itself. When the driver's hands were off the wheel, the researchers altered the car's steering performance to mimic higher-speed maneuvering. "The study is really about how human drivers respond to changes in vehicle control," Harbott says.


Tesla Cars Will Now Have The Hardware Necessary To Drive Themselves

Popular Science

But Musk elaborated in the Q&A, saying that it wouldn't make sense to turn off features that are preventing accidents and increasing safety. So these vehicles won't be self-driving from day one, but they will be SAE Level 5 fully autonomous, without need of human input, very soon. "The hardware is capable of the highest level of autonomy," Musk said. Adding this hardware now achieves one of his goals in the Tesla Master Plan Part Deux, released in July: "All Tesla vehicles will have the hardware necessary to be fully self-driving with fail-operational capability, meaning that any given system in the car could break and your car will still drive itself safely."


Musk Says New Tesla Autopilot Update Would Have Saved Driver's Life

Popular Science

Tesla is releasing a software update for the quasi-self-driving "autopilot" mode on its Model S electric sports cars. The update will allow Tesla's car autopilot system to use existing radar sensors on the Model S to form a more complete (and therefore more useful) picture of what's happening around the vehicle, hopefully making it smarter and safer. Tesla vehicles manufactured since October 2014 have carried onboard radar hardware, but the autopilot software has only been available since October of 2015. Reuters reports that Tesla CEO Elon Musk thinks the update would have saved the life of the driver of a crashed Tesla Model S in May 2016.


Software for Self-Driving Cars -- No GPS Necessary

Popular Science

These gather data about the vehicle's environment; the software then creates 3D point clouds to map everything around the vehicle. The 3D point cloud created by Selenium is almost spooky in its detail, and it can color the image with information from the cameras. It's also able to remove or ignore non-permanent features from a map, like parked cars that might not be on the street next time the autonomous car drives by. The passenger vehicles will only operate fully autonomously in "some controlled circumstances," according to the project's website.


First Known Tesla Autopilot Death Spurs Federal Investigation

Popular Science

We learned yesterday evening that NHTSA is opening a preliminary evaluation into the performance of Autopilot during a recent fatal crash that occurred in a Model S. This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated. Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles. It is important to emphasize that the NHTSA action is simply a preliminary evaluation to determine whether the system worked according to expectations. What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.


Google Announces Self-Driving Minivan

Popular Science

Google is working with Fiat Chrysler to develop 100 self-driving 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, the first time Google has ever partnered directly with an automaker to build a dedicated self-driving car. That's big news in-and-of itself, but the bigger deal here is that these 100 new cars will be purpose-built Chrysler minivans -- not modified vehicles as the previous Google self-driving cars were-- marking the first time Google is partnering directly with an auto company to create its futuristic, computer-driven cars. We're planning to more than double our fleet with the initial addition of about 100 new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, and we hope the first few will be on the road by the end of this year. This collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is the first time we've worked directly with an automaker to create our vehicles.


See Honda's Driverless Toy Cars Cross The World

Popular Science

Autonomous cars are a chance to reinvent the steering wheel. Because the vehicles themselves do all the driving, cars are no longer bound by such basic conventions as "keep a human facing forward at all times" and "don't try to climb over boulders like a spider." As a grand showcase for the new possibilities of autonomous cars, Honda plotted a seven-stage road trip roughly following that path of humanity's great migration from a species to the edge of the world. The auto company used miniature models for this conceptual video, but the hope is the same principles could be applied to human-sized autonomous vehicles of the future.


Autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid Drives in the Dark

Popular Science

The lidar grid is visible using night vision during the test of the Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous car. Ford researchers took a Fusion Hybrid autonomous test vehicle to its proving grounds in Arizona to put its lidar sensors through their paces – in pitch black darkness. It was so dark the researchers who were monitoring the test wore night vision goggles. The Fusion Hybrid test car used its lidar sensors to place itself in real time on 3D maps of the proving ground.