Tesla is getting ready to roll out a software upgrade that will allow a select few drivers to use more autonomous driving features in cities. Up to now, the beta versions of driver assistance software made available to thousands of drivers in the US have been designed for the relatively more simple environment of highways. Computer-assisted urban driving would bring Tesla a step closer to CEO Elon Musk's vision of fully self-driving vehicles. But safety officials think the company is getting ahead of itself, and putting drivers at risk. "Basic safety issues have to be addressed before they're then expanding it to other city streets and other areas," Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency that investigates transportation accidents, said in a Sept. 19 interview with The Wall Street Journal.
A structural colour technology that produces concentric rainbows could help autonomous vehicles read road signs, scientists in the US and China claim. As well as exploring the physics of these novel reflective surfaces, the researchers show that they can produce two different image signals at the same time. Autopilot systems that read both signals would be less likely to misinterpret altered road signs, they suggest. Car autopilot systems use infrared laser-based light detection and ranging (lidar) systems to scan their environment and recognize traffic situations. To read signs, autonomous vehicles rely on visible cameras and pattern recognition algorithms.