Self-Driving Robotic Cars Incredibly Hard to Make But Necessary

November 18 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2019   Rating: 6 Hot

Dr. Sebastian Thrun, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University where he directs the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, went over the steps his team has made in developing a self-driving vehicle at RoboDev in Santa Clara today. He showed some incredible video of cars smashing into obstacles (sometimes even seeking other cars out to smash into) but ended with videos of their latest vehicle successfully navigating slowly around other moving cars.

The great thing about his presentation was his appeal not to the side that wants self-driving cars, but to a side we can all agree with — saving energy, lives, and time.

Saving Energy

In saving energy, Dr. Thrun explained that 22% of the Nation’s energy consumption is used by cars. You also only use your car on average during about 10% of your day, making it useless the other 90%. If self-driving cars could be developed, one car could be used by multiple people. “You could be dropped off at work and then send the car back home to pick up your wife.” Added safety will also increase gas mileage since removing the extra weight of safety features (airbag, reinforced steel) would increase fuel efficiency by 30%. (It should also be noted that convoys reduce energy consumption by 11%-17%)

Saving Lives

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Key2SafeDriving is a Great Product For Anal-Retentive Parents

December 12 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2009   Rating: 4 Hot


Leave it to people in Utah to invent the most anal-retentive product of this decade so far.  Key2SafeDriving is a prototype made by University of Utah researchers that allows parents to disable their kids' cellphones while they're driving.  The parents can allow certain numbers to be dialed, and of course 911 is still available, but the kicker is the other functions they hope to add into it.

They hope to include a "safety score" which will be sent each month to insurance companies to compile a driving record of each user.  "The score also could include data recorded via Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites on the driver's speeding, rapid braking or running of lights, which are calculated by comparing the driver's position with a database of maps, speed limits, stop lights and so on."  You'll basically have to drive like a saint (usually the most hated person on the road) or else your insurance company will use that one time you went five miles over the speed limit to jack up your rates like crazy.

I really don't see this gaining ground among the general public.  The people I see using this are parents of only children, Mormons, parents who home school their kids, and rich liberal intellectuals who feel their kids will see how much they treasure their life through their over-protectionism.  Sorry if I come off as hostile, but this product is so silly it makes me laugh that there might be a market for it.  Check out their totally awesome video after the jump (seriously, you have to see it, I'm still laughing).

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