Autonomous Car Progress: Approaching Level 5

BMW iNext rendering

I thought adaptive cruise control was the coolest thing ever. Simply set the cruise to 70 miles per hour, and the car does the rest, even slowing down to match traffic when speeds drop.

I first experienced adaptive cruise control in 2014, and now, just three years later, we have automakers talking about “level 5” autonomy.

What is level 5? It means a car can control itself in all situations and doesn’t need a driver for anything. We’re not there yet, but some powerful and influential automakers are on the path to making it happen. Before level 5 cars arrive, lower priced cars will receive levels of autonomy that make my adaptive cruise look like technology straight out of 1999. Continue reading >>>

Kids Born Today May Never Drive a Car

My kids have never known what it’s like to not have Internet or cell phones. It makes me feel pretty old to say things like, “When I was a kid we had to look things up in the encyclopedia and make phone calls while attached to the wall.”

When my kids are parents, they’ll probably say things like, “I remember when people had to drive their own cars.”

Technology advances fast and the next decade will likely bring changes we can’t even fathom right now. On the automotive side of things, self-driving cars are already shaping up to be the next revolution right alongside a shift in the traditional car ownership model. Continue reading >>>

Self-Driving Cars Are Never Going to Happen

Lucid Air

After seeing the Lucid Air—Tesla’s most formidable competition to date—at the 2017 New York International Auto Show, it’s clear that electrification is the future of transportation. Not only do electric cars deliver exceptionally low running costs and valuable peace of mind to more environmentally conscious drivers, but more and more examples are turning in performance benchmarks normally reserved for exotic hypercars. Continue reading >>>

Uber Halts Self-Driving Program, BMW Announces One

The BMW iNEXT: Coming soon!

The drive toward full autonomy in cars continues on its relentless march, but setbacks continue to plague the new technology.

Google was among the first to publicly test self-driving cars and has logged millions of mostly trouble-free miles. Tesla is also proving the technology, though not without occasional tragedy.

Automakers around the world are also going all-in on the self-driving craze. Ford has promised full autonomy by 2021, as have Tesla, Audi, and more.

BMW just announced its intent to join that list, while Uber has abruptly halted its autonomous testing after a crash in Arizona.

Will we see full autonomy in just four short years? Continue reading >>>

2017: The Year the Future Arrives

Think back five years.

The year was 2012. It wasn’t that long ago, but in terms of advancements in the auto industry, it was an eternity. After doing a quick Google search for “car trends 2012,” I found a quaint little article from January of that year in the USA Today with the headline “Five auto trends that will shake up 2012.”

The article mentioned things like stop/start engine technology, multiple air bags, smaller gas-powered engines, and simple infotainment controls.

Earth-shattering stuff, right?

Compare that list to what to expect for 2017 and you’d think we jumped ahead 20 years, not just five. Here’s where we are now. Continue reading >>>

Will Car Brands Survive the Age of Autonomy?

uber_volvo

When flying on an airplane, travelers generally don’t care if the maker of the plane is Boeing or Airbus, but they do care if the carrier is United or Southwest. Apply that thinking to the world of cars as autonomy sets in over the next decade or so, and perhaps it won’t matter if the maker of the car is Ford or Chevrolet, but if the operator of the car is Uber, Lyft, or even IBM.

Automotive News published an in-depth article about the future of car brands, and it doesn’t look good for automakers as we know them today.

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The Trouble with Self-Driving Cars: It’s the Drivers, Not the Cars

Angry driver shouting in his car

Picture yourself circling a crowded Market Basket parking lot. You see one empty spot ahead, but by the looks of it, there’s another car angling toward the same space. Your choices are simple: Politely take the high road and yield the vacancy to the other driver, or press on ahead, disregarding the feelings of your fellow motorist, and grab that parking spot while you still can.

Regardless of what they’d do in reality, I imagine most readers would profess their virtue while choosing the former. But what if you didn’t have to worry about insulting another driver? What if you only had to worry about offending an unemotional, soulless computer?

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New Autonomous Cars to Protect Occupants… At All Costs

mercedes_self_driving_car

Whom should an autonomous car protect: the driver or a pedestrian?

Accidents are an unfortunate consequence of driving, and, so far, even autonomous software can’t prevent them. The ethics of accident avoidance is becoming one of the drawbacks of self-driving cars. When a human is driving, he or she can quickly process information and make a decision that, hopefully, results in the least amount of harm. Most of us would take any means of avoidance necessary to avoid hitting another person.

Self-driving cars, on the other hand, may be programmed to protect the driver at all costs…even if it means a pedestrian’s life.

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Tesla Autopilot Crash Raises Questions About Autonomous Cars

2016_tesla_model_s_85d

It’s not easy to write about death.

Death, however, is a tragic and so far unavoidable part of automotive culture. In 2014, an average of 89 people died per day in car crashes. Worldwide, the numbers are far larger: An average of 3,287 people die every day in cars.

Those are sobering numbers and even more powerful when you consider that every one of those deaths was a mother, father, son, or daughter.

As common as deaths on international roadways are, one tragic accident has made headline news for being the first to happen in a self-driving car.

Have drivers already become too trusting of autonomous technology?

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Self-Driving Cars Gain Steam, But Are We Ready?

tesla_self_driving

Who better to develop a self-driving car than a video-game company?

In video games, cars behave almost like real cars and are programmed to react to obstacles while racing around tracks or through city streets. Games today are essentially driving simulators, so it makes sense that the technology could transfer over to the real world.

Granted, when a car in a video game crashes, a simple reset results in a fresh car without any consequences from the accident. Real life is much different, but a company known for its role in video games is quickly becoming one of the hottest self-driving companies in the world.

A couple of videos from last week, though, prove that self-driving still has a long way to go.

Continue reading >>>