Toyota, Audi driverless demos will pull up to CES

Jan 06, 2013 by Nancy Owano report

(Phys.org)—While the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas starting January 8 will be full of mobile-computing gadgetry next week, autonomous driving demonstrations will also capture visitors' attention, and will raise awareness that autonomous driving technologies are to shape the future of road transport, sooner than later. Toyota has delivered a video clip that shows a self-drive prototype with gear on its grille and on its roof, ahead of CES.

The car is a 2013 Lexus LS carrying equipment that includes on-board radar and to monitor the road and the driver. Toyota's driverless features involve car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure technologies.

The cameras and radar equipment can detect , lane lines and other vehicles. The technology aims to prevent crashes—a Toyota spokesman said zero collisions are the goal. The car can be driver-assisted or completely self-driving. When a driver is at the wheel, Toyota's technology could boost safety by detecting obstacles or alerting the driver if the driver is falling asleep.

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Lexus advanced active safety research vehicle

Toyota refers to its "Intelligent Transport Systems" technology. As part of the ITS concept, beacons detect the positions of pedestrians and obstacles and relay information to the vehicle, on whether a traffic light is green or red. Toyota plans to say more about its autonomous driving technology at a press conference at CES. The vehicle will be shown at the Lexus display.

Toyota's announcement indicates how car-makers want to follow the limelight that was already captured by Google in its development of a fully tested on . Last year, the granted Google a license to test its self-driving on its roads. In addition to Toyota, the CES event will include a demonstration by Audi on its autonomous driving developments, including a feature that allows a car to find a parking space and park itself.

Last year, Volvo tested a self-drive convoy on a Spanish motorway, completing a 125-mile trip, in the first public test of such convoy vehicles.

At the Continental Automotive Group, system suppliers, Dr. Elmar Degenhart, chairman of the executive board, said that it is clear that mobility in the future will include automated driving. As a system supplier, he said, the company is positioned to launch solutions for partially automated systems for customers by 2016.

A report from KPMG and the Center for Automotive Research similarly said that driverless cars are coming sooner than consumers may think. "The next generation of driver-assist systems will likely offer greater vehicle autonomy at lower speeds and may reduce the incidence of low-impact crashes. For example, traffic jam assist solutions work at speeds up to 37 mph."

While car manufacturers working on driverless features emphasize the upside of safety and a reduction in collisions, 's Larry Page recently brought up another reason why driverless cars may be a beneficial development in the future of cars. He brought up economics. "Do you really want to use all your concrete and steel to build parking lots? It seems pretty stupid. If we have automated cars, or even if we have some fraction of automated cars, we'll save hundreds of millions of dollars on parking," he told Fortune. In his suggested scenario, the autonomous car can drop the driver off to the office, then park itself. Later, the worker's smartphone detects when the driver is leaving the office and proceeds immediately to pick up the driver.

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More information: www.kpmg.com/US/en/IssuesAndIn… -next-revolution.pdf

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BSD
3.3 / 5 (13) Jan 06, 2013
The way some people drive, one can say "driverless" cars are already on our roads.
gopher65
5 / 5 (6) Jan 06, 2013
I know some people are worried about these cars crashing... but they can't be any worse than the vast majority of the people on the road. There are a *lot* of seriously bad drivers out there.
Eikka
2 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2013
I know some people are worried about these cars crashing...


I'm not worried about that in the near term, because they will over-engineer the system to be nearly flawless before they're really allowed on any public roads on the large scale.

What I am worried about is the transition where people will have less and less actual driving experience in cars because they're carted around by automatic vehicles, so the ability of the average human driver will start to drop sharply and sooner or later the average driver will not be able to respond to a situation that would demand them taking control from the computer.

Eventually of course, people simply won't drive anymore, nor are they allowed to.
ComputerScienceUndergrad
1 / 5 (3) Jan 06, 2013
I'm not worried about that in the near term, because they will over-engineer the system to be nearly flawless before they're really allowed on any public roads on the large scale.

Though this may be a cool concept, I have my doubts. With computer base system lies a programer. Programs fail, I don't care how long someone perfects their line of code, there will always be some type of unforeseen hole, error or exploits, therefore, hackable or software crashes. which can be far worse than some human error. I just feel they need far more work then given.
Msafwan
5 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2013
Though this may be a cool concept, I have my doubts. With computer base system lies a programer. Programs fail, I don't care how long someone perfects their line of code, there will always be some type of unforeseen hole, error or exploits, therefore, hackable or software crashes. which can be far worse than some human error. I just feel they need far more work then given.

Yea, stuff do crash (like usual), but the real question is: do you want cool feature like this to fix our transportation issues? the answer is "yes!".

Programming crash doesn't need to be catastrophic. The mode of failure can be made safer. ie: automatically stop the car, or perform a controlled crash to side of road incase of error.

Unlike bomb, a case of failure doesn't mean an apocalyptic destruction. You can retain existing airbag & safeties to lessen the impact, or probably add some more.
Eikka
2 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2013
Program crash doesn't need to be catastrophic.


You can always add redundancy to the point that nothing short of physically removing the wheels will stop the car from going where the computer wants it.

The problem is more in, what the computer wants, because it doesn't have the context of a real driver to assess risks. It doesn't understand what it sees, so it merely compares statistical models about what might be a fire hydrant, and what might be a child in a red jacket, and what it should do if the fire hydrant suddenly starts to move.

A real driver for example would have to make a decision whether to try to avoid a dog and risk causing a head-on collision, or run over a dog and not. The machine may not be able to reliably distinguish between a toddler and a dog an a plastic bag flying in the wind until you give it a human level AI.
Msafwan
not rated yet Jan 06, 2013
A real driver for example would have to make a decision whether to try to avoid a dog and risk causing a head-on collision, or run over a dog and not.

You would still want it for sleepy driver (at night) and during tediously slow traffic jam, and its radar can be helpful too (ie: in fog, rain & low visibility).
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Jan 06, 2013
It won't be long until states will be lobbied to grant limited liability to the manufacturer of driver-less cars, for the good of the industry, of course.
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Jan 06, 2013
You would still want it for sleepy driver (at night)


A sleepy driver at night says the car has to stop until the driver is no longer sleepy. It takes too long to wake up a person so they can resume control, and you can't have a non-responsive driver behind the wheel when things start to go wrong.

DruidDrudge
1 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2013
are flights not driverless already?
the major cause of air accidents has been pilot error.
I think NV, FL, CA has already passed legislation on this.
we already have ABS, ESP, collision avoidance systems(what is the acronym?), adaptive cruise control, lane assist, self park
anyone have a list of "driver assistance devices" we already use
I see on wiki the first one was 1939...
DruidDrudge
1 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2013
from wiki,
With an additional cost of $3,000, 25% of the male vehicle buyers were willing to pay for a fully autonomous vehicle, while only 14 percent of women wanted the feature.
I wonder why women were reluctant?
DruidDrudge
1 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2013
I know some people are worried about these cars crashing... but they can't be any worse than the vast majority of the people on the road. There are a *lot* of seriously bad drivers out there.

15 to 20 year olds to be specific
vmircea
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2013
Many of lifes will be saved, with this car's.
Nederluv
not rated yet Jan 07, 2013
This technology could make transportation awesome.
We won't have to watch the road anymore while travelling by car.
This means our future cars could have circular couches with a small table in the middle so you could have a conversation with fellow passengers.
Add a fridge, the internet and some computers and travelling could actually become something pleasant!
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2013
are flights not driverless already?


Nope.

the major cause of air accidents has been pilot error.


But pilot error is usually something like, misreading indicators and flying at a wrong altitude. These are often due to design flaws, such as ambiguous indicators, or having to (and forgetting) to convert the amount of fuel from pounds to kilograms before taking off.

Or the computer does something completely bonkers. Recent case that I remember would be a Swiss Air accident where the computer actually misunderstood the pilots' normal actions as emergency manouvers because of sudden turbulence, and overcompensated the pilot's control, driving the plane into a mountain. The pilots didn't notice because of fog, and because of an indicator that looked same for both %-units and m/s of descent rate.

Again, a computer has no actual understanding of the situation, so it's liable to make completely wrong assesments. That's why you need someone with a brain to override the computer
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2013
Ah yes, It was this case that I was thinking of: http://en.wikiped...ight_148

The pilots had no warning of the imminent impact because Air Inter had not equipped its aircraft with ground proximity warning systems (GPWS).

The Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA) believe that Flight 148 crashed because the pilots inadvertently left the autopilot set in Vertical Speed mode (instead of Flight Path Angle mode) then entered "33" for "3.3° descent angle", which the autopilot interpreted as a descent rate of 3,300 feet (1,000 m) per minute.

When investigators input this descent rate into a flight simulator, the simulated plane did not crash. Further investigation showed that after some small turbulence, a safety feature in the autopilot further increased the descent thus adding to the chain of events that caused the crash.


So, it was offically a "pilot error", but it was the autopilot that killed everyone
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2013
The reason why I presented this case is to point out that in accidents, there's usually no single cause, yet in accident reporting there's a tendency to put the blame on the pilots because the industry doesn't want to cast doubt on the safety of the equipment itself.

That gives a skewed impression on the ability of the machine.

Everybody makes mistakes, but to really screw up something takes a computer, and unwavering faith that it does what it's supposed to.
DruidDrudge
1 / 5 (5) Jan 07, 2013
I should have said "human error" is the number one cause.
would you like links?
if 95% of your flight is by computer, would you like to claim it is not driverless?
there have been 9 swiss air accidents. I do not know of any that fit your description.
DruidDrudge
1 / 5 (5) Jan 07, 2013
airlines have gone to computers because they are safer, not because they are infallible.
even then, improper programming ( by humans ) is the leading problem.
alfie_null
not rated yet Jan 13, 2013
If I were employed as a professional driver (bus, cab, truck, etc.), I'd seriously be considering my options now. This is going to be a disruption for an entire industry in a few years. OTOH, new opportunities for the agile.

I'm imagining there will be less need to own a car if it is more convenient and less expensive to summon one when it is needed. At the same time, easy to adjust the capacity per instance (individual going to work, taking the family to visit grandma, etc.). Maybe even making car pooling effective as a system could dynamically schedule trips and group people.