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Posts under tag: self-driving

January 23, 2017

Ten new testing grounds approved for self-driving vehicles

According to The Verge, the US Department of Transportation approved ten designated sites in nine states to serve as proving rounds for self-driving cars:

  1. City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute
  2. Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership
  3. US Army Aberdeen Test Center (Maryland)
  4. American Center for Mobility at Willow Run (Michigan)
  5. Contra Costa Transportation Authority and GoMentum Stadium (California)
  6. San Diego Association of Governments
  7. Iowa City Area Development Group
  8. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  9. Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners
  10. North Carolina Turnpike Authority

According to the article quoting the Department of Transportation, “automakers and tech companies will share data with each other and the government as they test their autonomous vehicles at these sites… The proving grounds are intended to test autonomous vehicle safety and handling in a variety of road conditions. According to the former and newly appointed secretaries for the agency, the goal is to form a Community of Practice around safe testing and deployment and to work with Congress to position the federal government as a catalyst for safe, efficient technologies. Notably, two of the sites will be in California close to Silicon Valley as to test the technology and in Michigan to work with the big US automakers there.

For more information on this, check out the article from The Verge.

January 11, 2016

Ford’s self-driving car technology at CES 2016

Ford Fusion Hybrid Self-Driving Car components

Mechanisms of the Ford Fusion Hybrid Self-Driving car prototype at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.

(Originally from Jonathan M. Gitlin – Ars Technica)

As we’ve noted elsewhere, CES has now evolved to be part car show. But not just any car show—the focus is on how technology is transforming the car, and nowhere is that more evident than in autonomous driving. The goal is to get to “level four”—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s highest level of self-driving vehicle, capable of getting from point A to point B without any human driver intervention. We’re not there yet—no one in the industry Ars has spoken to recently thinks the tech challenges are quite solved yet—but research vehicles from companies like Google, Delphi, Audi, and Ford are testing out the hardware and software necessary to get us to that point. With that in mind, we spoke to Wayne Williams, who gave us a quick tour of one of Ford’s fully autonomous hybrid Fusions.

Ford has chosen the Fusion hybrid as its autonomous driving platform in part because as a hybrid, the vehicles have a beefed up electrical system and they’re completely drive-by-wire, which makes computer control of the steering, brakes, and throttle much simpler. From the outside, you can tell something is special about the autonomous car, thanks to the roof rack and its spinning Velodyne lidar sensors, which are the primary way the vehicles are aware of the world around them (there are also optical cameras, and the cars can use information from radar sensors, too).

It’s even more obvious that something special is going on inside the trunk, where there are lots of boxes and cables that take information from the sensors, fuse it together, and then decide what to do in order to get to the planned destination. (For a deeper look at what’s going on in the trunk, check out our report from August, when we visited Ford.)

For more of this article and an Ars Technica video with Ford, click here.

May 7, 2015

Freightliner Inspiration – the first autonomous driving semi-truck

Nevada Autonomous Vehicle License Plate

Nevada’s Autonomous Vehicle License Plate template. The first state to allow for autonomous vehicles to be tested and driven legally.

The Verge announced this week that the semi-truck company Freightliner has released a new model that can drive itself…most of the time. The Inspiration Truck could help saves lives, mitigate driver fatigue and stress, and reduced carbon dioxide emissions up to 5 percent. Upon its unveiling, it has been made street-legal and is registered in Nevada since autonomous vehicle testing has been allowed through the legislature there (and as of this post, subsequently in three other states — California, Florida, Michigan — and the District of Columbia).

Technically by law, this vehicle and the previously announced Google self-driving car fall under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) automation scale at level 3 meaning that the vehicle is advanced enough to enable the driver to relinquish control to the vehicle in certain conditions. The driver can interrupt and regain control but the vehicle should allow a “comfortable transition time.”

The technology for this automation is called Highway Pilot and was designed by Freightliner’s parent company, Daimler AG. It uses a combination of a stereo camera setup along the top of the windshield and a radar system that detects vehicles ahead and beside with automated cruise control.

For more information and pictures of the new rig, check out this article from The