USA Today's Nathan Bomey takes Cadillac's Super Cruise for a test drive. In this Friday March 23, 2018 photo provided by KTVU, emergency personnel work a the scene where a Tesla electric SUV crashed into a barrier on U.S. Highway 101 in Mountain View, Calif. The National Transportation Safety Board has sent two investigators to look into a fatal crash and fire Friday in California that involved a Tesla electric SUV. The agency says on Twitter that it's not clear whether the Tesla Model X was operating on its semi-autonomous control system called Autopilot at the time. Investigators will study the fire that broke out after the crash.
Self-driving cars are nearly ready for primetime, and so are the laser sensors that help them see the world. Lidar, which builds a 3-D map of a car's surroundings by firing millions of laser points a second and measuring how long they take to bounce back, has been in development since 2005, when a guy named Dave Hall made one for the Darpa Grand Challenge, an autonomous vehicle contest. In the decade-plus since then, if you wanted a lidar for your self-driving car, Velodyne was your only choice. Yet Velodyne's one-time monopoly has eroded in recent years, as dozens of lidar startups came to life, and robocar makers found their own way. Google's sister company Waymo put years and millions of dollars into developing a proprietary system.
Driverless vehicles are being tested on public roads in a number of countries.Credit: Prostock/Getty Last month, for the first time, a pedestrian was killed in an accident involving a self-driving car. A sports-utility vehicle controlled by an autonomous algorithm hit a woman who was crossing the road in Tempe, Arizona. The safety driver inside the vehicle was unable to prevent the crash. Although such accidents are rare, their incidence could rise as more vehicles that are capable of driving without human intervention are tested on public roads. In the past year, several countries have passed laws to pave the way for such trials.
A postal drone in Russia crashed into a wall and smashed into pieces during its maiden flight. The unmanned aerial vehicle took off to deliver a small package to a village near Ulan-Ude, a city in Siberia, but hit a three-storey building shortly after lifting off from a mini launch pad in front of a crowd of spectators. The drone had been touted as a new way to deliver post in the rural Buryatia region, located more than 2,700 miles from the Russian capital Moscow. Video footage of the crash showed the vehicle taking off before veering into the apartment building and showering onlookers with debris. No one was harmed in the incident.
More than a week after a self-driving Uber hit and killed a woman crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona, the company is facing the consequences. Today, on the orders of Arizona governor Doug Ducey, the Arizona Department of Transportation commanded Uber to suspend its testing of autonomous and highly automated vehicles on the state's roadways. It's an obvious setback for Uber's embattled self-driving program, which does much of its testing in Arizona, but the kibosh job also signals how local and state politicians elsewhere will be looking to control a new technology that comes with the promise of great safety and economic benefits--but also the potential to destroy jobs and, when it fails, to kill. And it's an unexpected blow from Ducey, who until the crash had championed the technology and encouraged companies like Uber to do their testing work in Arizona, where virtually no rules dictate what they can do where and when, and where they face no requirements to report or disclose anything about their programs, including crashes. In 2015, Ducey signed an executive order telling all state agencies to "undertake any necessary steps to support the testing and operation of self-driving cars."
Passengers have been carried across London by the first self-driving train on a mainline railway in the UK. Govia Thameslink Railway promised that it would not spell the beginning of the end for drivers, who remain responsible for safety and can take control of the train at any time. Automated operation using a new digital signalling system will allow many more trains to pass through the congested tracks between St Pancras and Blackfriars in central London, giving space for an additional 60,000 passengers to commute at peak hours daily. After almost 18 months of testing, the first commuter train in automatic operation was Monday's 9.46am Thameslink service from Peterborough to Horsham. Shortly after 11.08am, the driver, Howard Weir, pressed the yellow button in the cab that allowed the train's computer to do the driving between St Pancras and Blackfriars.
Cars that can drive themselves have already logged millions of miles, but with a driver poised to take over if needed. Waymo, a branch of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is offering commuters in Phoenix the ability to hail a Chrysler minivan without anyone behind the wheel. Audi expects to begin selling a version of its A8 sedan that can take over completely in traffic jams and similar situations. And next year, General Motors Co. has promised to put robot taxis into service. Decades in the making, the driverless dream holds the promise of drastically reducing deaths on the highway.
Around the world, vehicles kill more people than HIV/AIDS – about 1.3 million each year. In the vast majority of cases, it is the inattentive and error-prone humans operating those cars and lorries who are at fault. Pedestrian Elaine Herzberg died after being struck by an autonomous Uber car on Sunday as she crossed a road – the first time that a self-driving vehicle has claimed the life of another road user.
Uber on Monday suspended its self-driving tests after a pedestrian was killed by an autonomous Uber in Tempe, Ariz. Uber on Monday suspended its self-driving tests after a pedestrian was killed by an autonomous Uber in Tempe, Ariz. A self-driving car operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz., Sunday night. The incident could be the first pedestrian death involving a self-driving vehicle. The car was in autonomous mode but had a human riding along to take control of the vehicle if necessary, according to the Tempe Police Department.