Thursday, October 28, 2010

Three new developments regarding autonomous vehicles

First, the four vehicles that are part of Alberto Broggi's project (previously blogged here) have arrived in Shanghai after their 8,000 mile journey from Milan. Here is an AP story in the LA Times about the project.

Second, here is a story from New Scientist that explains some of the features driverless cars may have. From the story:
Google says its major motivation is road safety. But there could be another imperative at work. The tech industry needs a fresh market to address after TV, computers and cellphones - and the car is being seen as that "fourth screen". Make sure the driver has nothing to do, and you've got a willing subject who's able to interact with a raft of lucrative in-car apps and search tools.

At the Future World Symposium in London last month, Tony King-Smith of Imagination Technologies, which designs graphics drivers and wireless microchips for smartphones and satnavs, said the idea of "making the in-car experience much richer" - and far closer to the apps used elsewhere - is driving tech firms to dream up novel dashboards. "People don't want any difference between what they see on their four screens," he told delegates.

The fourth screen technologies are in part sprouting out of the satnav technology already in place in cars. King-Smith says Nokia-owned satnav maker NavTeq is using his firm's graphics technology to develop rich in-car location-based apps - partly based on its own citywide lidar data it will begin acquiring in Europe next month.

Others suspect that this may be Google's long-term motive, rather than safety-related altruism: "If your car can drive itself, a lot of commuters would be freed up to do other things in the car - such as surf the web," says TechCrunch. A 50-minute commute could prove highly lucrative.

Third, Robocop has come to life! Here is a story about robot sentries guarding military installations and nuclear materials.

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