Victoria Police to get real-time number plate recognition capability


The Victorian Police Force has announced it will be implementing new number plate recognition and in car video technology, thanks to a AU$17.3 million deal with Motorola Solutions. Under the five-year deal, 220 police vehicles will be fitted with high-resolution, cloud-based Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology that enables the rapid scanning through thousands of vehicle number plates to identify dangerous and unauthorised drivers in real-time. By March 2021, Highway Patrol vehicles will also be kitted out with new in-car video technology that will allow officers to record audio and video footage of road policing activities, including roadside intercepts. According to the state government, the number plate technology is part of a AU$43.8 million investment to boost Victoria Police's capacity to target dangerous drivers and unregistered vehicles. "By combining ANPR detection with in-car video, this solution will provide high quality visual and audio corroboration of incidents and offences witnessed by police," Motorola Solutions VP and MD Steve Crutchfield said.

Video Friday: Boston Dynamics' Spot Goes to Work, and More

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos. We already posted about the Atlas doing parkour video, which Marc Raibert first showed at IROS earlier this month; he also showed this video, which is just as interesting (if not quite as dramatic), since it shows SpotMini in what could be its first realistic commercial application. We have begun field testing the Spot robot for commercial usage around the world.

Pennsylvania approves its first self-driving car tests


Self-driving startup Aurora is the first company to receive Pennsylvania's blessing to test autonomous vehicles on its roads. As TechCrunch noted, it's actually been trialing its technology on the streets of Pittsburgh since 2017 -- along with other companies -- but the state only released its automated vehicle testing guidance in July. While automakers aren't required to register, Aurora voluntarily complied with the government's request, which will give the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation access to information about its test results and conditions, the safety measures it takes, the vetting and training of its vehicle operators and the internal details about how its self-driving system works. Aurora is nowhere near as recognizable as Waymo, but it was founded by three experienced names in the field: Chris Urmson (led Carnegie Mellon's self-driving efforts in DARPA's Grand Challenges), Drew Bagnell (formerly of Uber's self-driving team) and Sterling Anderson (from Tesla's Autopilot team). In fact, the startup's beginnings were mired in controversy.

Autonomous cars on US roads with no brake pedals, steering wheels just edged closer


Road users in the US may soon see self-driving cars without human controls under a pilot program proposed by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency is seeking public feedback on a proposed pilot to test vehicles "that lack controls for human drivers and thus may not comply with all existing safety standards" and do so in real-world scenarios, it said in a document released Thursday. As noted by Reuters, NHTSA said vehicles in the program may need features to disable them if a sensor fails or limit their maximum speeds. The pilot would aim to test autonomous vehicles rated as Level 4 and Level 5, which are respectively fully autonomous vehicles with a safe fallback mode, and fully autonomous vehicles without human controls, such as brake and accelerator pedals or steering wheels. NHTSA wants to know in what categories it should collect data from participants.

DOT issues new guidance for automated vehicles -- GCN


The Department of Transportation has released new guidance for automated vehicles that identifies and supports the development of voluntary technical standards, defines government's roles, describes a risk-management framework for safety and provides a process for working with the department on this technology. This non-binding guidance, "Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0," was announced by the department on Oct. 4. AV 3.0 prioritizes safety and technical neutrality and minimizes regulation, while promoting operational and legal consistency across states and throughout the transportation industry. The document is meant to clarify some safety standards in hopes of building public trust and confidence in automated vehicle technology, DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao said at a press conference announcing the report. "AV 3.0 builds upon but does not replace voluntary guidance provided in "2.0 A Vision for Safety," Chao said.

Transportation Department Looks To Clear The Road For Cars Without Steering Wheels


The Department of Transportation says it wants to remove barriers to innovation in autonomous car technology. Caitlin O'Hara/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption The Department of Transportation says it wants to remove barriers to innovation in autonomous car technology. The Department of Transportation has announced new federal voluntary guidance on the development and use of automated vehicles -- with the goal of "removing unnecessary barriers" to innovation. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said Thursday that the department's 80-page "Automated Vehicles 3.0" guidance "supports the safe, reliable and cost-effective integration of automation into our country's surface transportation systems." The department indicated it was open to changing current standards that require all cars to have steering wheels, brakes and accelerator pedals.

Canberra stands up AU$9.7m Transport Office to prep for autonomous vehicles


Transportation is about to get a technology-driven reboot. The details are still taking shape, but future transport systems will certainly be connected, data-driven and highly automated. The federal government has announced it will be establishing an Office of Future Transport Technologies, charged with the responsibility of preparing for the arrival of automated vehicles. For a cost of AU$9.7 million, the new office will sit underneath the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, which is headed up by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack. "Automated vehicles are on the verge of becoming commercially available here and the Australian government is taking proactive steps to manage the associated challenges and opportunities within that evolving and future transport landscape," McCormack said in a statement, noting the Australian future transport and mobility industry is expected generate more than AU$16 billion in revenue by 2025.

When it Comes to Autonomous Cars, the Department of Transportation Says 'Drivers' Don't Have to Be Human


The Department of Transportation is getting a little more creative about how it defines "driver," Secretary Elaine Chao announced Thursday. The computers have a ticket to drive now--at least where federal regulations are concerned. And while this is good news for everyone working on building, and eventually deploying, self-driving vehicles, it's especially welcome for the automated trucking crowd. Waymo, Daimler, Volvo, Embark Trucks,, Starsky and Kodiak Robotics, TuSimple, Ike: Automated trucking companies have boomed this year, even after Uber got out of the trucking race.

US Department of Transportation updates autonomous car rules


The US Department of Transportation has released its latest set of voluntary guidelines for automated driving systems, a report that builds on previous versions released over the past two years. With Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0, the DOT outlines additional safety principles, updates policy and offers guidance to state and local governments. "The integration of automation across our transportation system has the potential to increase productivity and facilitate freight movement," said DOT Secretary Elaine Chao. "But most importantly, automation has the potential to impact safety significantly -- by reducing crashes caused by human error, including crashes involving impaired or distracted drivers, and saving lives. The report notes that it's meant to be an update to, but not a replacement of, last year's guidance, and it encourages those developing automated driving systems to make public their Voluntary Safety Self-Assessments, which were introduced in last year's report.

Apple and Amazon deny report they were hit by one of the most damaging hacks ever

The Independent

A new report claims that China managed to spy on large swathes of the world by smuggling tiny computer chips into electronic hardware used to power iPhones and many other products. If true, the allegations from Bloomberg News represent the probably the biggest and most destructive hacks ever to have happened. They would allow the Chinese government to have access to devices not by exploiting loopholes but from the very beginning, letting them listen in on people's communications over the internet with ease. But the companies involved have already strenuously denied the reports, and claimed no such attack has actually happened. The report claimed that Chinese operatives from the People's Liberation Army had infiltrated a manufacturer of motherboards for servers, Supermicro, and placed tiny chips onto them.