Tag Archives: technology

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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New Strategy For Car Makers, Share The Bare Minimum With Tech Companies

Will the advancements in technology and automotive decrease in pace once car makers continue to share the bare minimum of information to get the results they desire.

Carmakers are limiting the data they share with technology partners Apple and Google through new systems that link smartphones to vehicle infotainment systems, defending access to information about what drivers do in their cars.

Auto companies hope that the vehicle data will one day generate billions of dollars in e-commerce, though they are just beginning to form strategies for monetizing the information. Apple and Google already make money from smartphone owners by providing a variety of products and services, from digital music to targeted advertising, and connecting phones to car systems will almost certainly extend their reach.

But as infotainment systems such as Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto become more widespread, auto companies hope to keep tech providers from gaining access to a wealth of potentially profitable information collected by computer systems in cars.

Some auto companies have specifically said they will not provide Apple and Google with data from the vehicle’s functional systems — steering, brakes and throttle, for instance — as well as information about range, a measure of how far the car can travel before it runs out of gas.

“We need to control access to that data,” said Don Butler, Ford Motor Co.’s executive director of connected vehicle and services. “We need to protect our ability to create value” from new digital services built on vehicle data.

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Could Technology Keep Our Roads and Highways Collision-Free?

In the coming months, dealership showrooms will be welcoming new and innovative models that can be equipped with advanced technologies that could save lives. These new safety technologies will take control of a vehicle in certain situations. This technology has mainly been confined to high-end, optioned-up premium and luxury vehicles and will now be more available to the average consumer.

The 2015 Toyota Camry, for example, will be available with adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance systems that can brake to stop or slow the car if a crash is imminent, technologies now offered primarily on Lexus models. By 2017, Toyota plans to make those and other near-autonomous technologies available across its namesake brand.

Other automakers are moving in the same direction. Ford’s 2015 Edge crossover will have a technology package that includes more than a dozen sensors around the car: cameras, radar, ultrasonic.

Then, in the following two to three years, those kinds of technologies will become more capable and likely fall in price. In that time frame, General Motors plans to launch a Cadillac with its Super Cruise system, which can take control of steering, acceleration and braking in stop-and-go traffic or at higher speeds.

Not far behind: automated emergency braking, which will stop a car anytime it’s headed for a low- or moderate-speed frontal crash, whether or not the cruise control is engaged.

The emerging consensus among industry experts and executives gathered here for last week’s Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress was that by the time today’s adolescents start buying their first new cars, the term “fender bender” is going to be on its way to obsolescence.

“A collision-free society is within reach,” Frank Paluch, president of Honda’s U.S. r&d arm, said in a presentation at the ITS conference.

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