On the A-1 highway north of Madrid, Ford Spain’s press fleet manager, Eusebio Ruiz, locks his car’s radar onto another vehicle perhaps 75 meters ahead. An outline of the car appears on the dashboard with a few red bars behind it indicating the target distance. Deep memories of the film Top Gun and years of flight-simulator play kick in, and I reach for the joystick to arm my Sidewinder missiles. But the Ford Kuga is armed with neither Sidewinders nor a joystick. I sigh, click my pen, and continue taking notes as Ruiz fiddles with buttons on the steering wheel.
The car slammed to a halt on a sunny afternoon. A cloth and metal figure of a child wiggled back and forth following its sudden emergence into the car’s path. Inside, two sets of human eyes stared at the puppet kid’s eyes. The car was watching too.
A moment later, the car’s brake pedal lifted from the floor. The Bosch engineer riding in the car, who hadn’t even moved his foot as the vehicle brought itself to the abrupt stop, now stepped on the brake. Now that the car’s autonomous braking system—a chip that used images from a windshield camera—had concluded that the danger of an accident had passed, it was handing control back to the human driver.
Continue reading How Self-Driving Cars Will Sneak Onto Our Roads
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) will soon propose rules for vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications on U.S. roads, it announced yesterday. The agency is now finalizing a report on a 2012 trial with almost 3000 cars in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and will follow that report with draft rules that would “require V2V devices in new vehicles in a future year.”
Like an impatient teenager, self-driving car technology will be ready to hit the road well before authorities are ready to license it, predict a pair of studies released last week. That may not be such a bad thing, write researchers at RAND, a think tank in Santa Monica, Calif. Waiting until the technology’s potential and impacts are more clear could help policymakers establish better rules for driverless roads, they write.