Tag Archives: Self Driving

Is This Lights Out For Traffic Lights?

Self-driving cars will change many things on the road, traffic lights just being one of them.

The century-old traffic light could be become extinct if autonomous vehicles become the most common form of automotive transport.

Traffic experts believe that a slot system — closer to how air traffic is routed — might work better for ground transportation than traditional lights once self-driving cars and trucks become ubiquitous.

That’s the finding of an international study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Swiss Institute of Technology and the Italian National Research Council.

Traffic intersections are complicated because different flows of traffic compete for the same space. Switching to a slot-based model could be simpler and more efficient, the study said.

“A slot-based system moves the focus from the traffic flow level to the vehicle level,” said Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT Senseable City Lab. “Ultimately, it’s a much more efficient system, because vehicles will get to an intersection exactly when there is a slot available to them.”

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Stanford Creates DeLorean That Drives Under Robot Control

PALO ALTO, Calif. –We may not have hover boards and robots as waiters but we are half way there to the future we predicted in Back To The Future II.

Despite the wishful thinking of the 1989 science-fiction film “Back to the Future Part II,” in which scientist Dr. Emmett Brown and all-American teenager Marty McFly ride a time-traveling DeLorean DMC-12 forward by 30 years to Oct. 21, 2015, those futuristic gadgets still haven’t become a reality. (No matter what Lexus says.)

But on Tuesday, on the eve of what has become known as “Back to the Future Day,” Stanford University researchers unveiled a self-driving DeLorean that can burn rubber under robot control, suggesting the future might not be so dismal after all.

The car, nicknamed Marty after Michael J. Fox’s character in the film, does doughnuts with near-flawless precision. The researchers ultimately want Marty to drift around corners better than any human race car driver, because if self-driving cars are able to function at the limits of grip, they may be able to avoid crashes in extreme scenarios.

“We aren’t literally envisioning roads full of automated vehicles that can produce clouds of white tire smoke,” said Chris Gerdes, the Stanford professor who led the project, “though that would be cool.”

At an event Tuesday evening hosted by special effects guru Jamie Hyneman, co-host of the Discovery Channel TV show “MythBusters,” Stanford released a video of Marty filmed at Thunderhill Raceway Park north of San Francisco.

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