AI News, Autonomous Vehicle Driving from Italy to China

Autonomous Vehicle Driving from Italy to China

The Russian policeman waved at the orange van zigzagging at the empty plaza, ordering it to stop.

The VisLab researchers, after getting tired of testing their vehicles in laboratory conditions, decided to set out on a real-world test drive: a 13,000-kilometer, three-month intercontinental journey from Parma to Shanghai.

(See real time location and live video.) The autonomous vehicle Grand Challenges organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, in the United States, popularized the idea of cars that drive themselves.

But when you go out in a real road, with real traffic, real weather, it’s another story,” says Alberto Broggi, VisLab's director and an engineering professor at Parma University.

The goal is to test, and later perfect, their vision and navigation systems, which the researchers hope to one day deploy on commercial vehicles.

it visually tracks the lead van, plans a trajectory in real time, and generates controls for steering and accelerating or braking.

Two cameras hanging above the windshield provide stereo vision, used for identifying lane markings and the terrain slope.

The laser scanners -- three mono-beam and one four-plane laser beam -- detect obstacles, pedestrians, and other vehicles, as well as ditches and bumps on the road.

The third integrates all the data and plans a path, which in turn triggers low-level controls for steering, accelerating, and braking the vehicle.

This component takes the large panoramic image and identifies the lead van, even when approaching a tight turn or steep hill.

group of 20 staff researchers and students travel in a convoy that includes four vans (two pairs of leader-follower vehicles) and six support trucks, which provide a mechanic shop, storage, accommodation, and satellite communications.

Whenever the vehicles are running, the computers are recording data from the cameras, laser scanners, inertial sensors, GPS, vehicle actuators, batteries, and other systems.

The idea is that after the test is over, the researchers can use the data to study every instance when things didn’t work, such as when the vehicle failed to detect lanes or misidentified an obstacle.

The project moved forward when they teamed up with Overland, an expedition organization, which handles logistics, including obtaining permissions to enter Russia and China carrying high-tech cameras and satellite equipment.

In fact, to cross the Russian border the group was held for 22 hours by custom officers, who took a huge number of pictures of the vehicles and the equipment and demanded a pile of paperwork.

History of autonomous cars

Since then, numerous major companies and research organizations have developed working prototype autonomous vehicles including Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, Continental Automotive Systems, Autoliv Inc., Bosch, Nissan, Toyota, Audi, Volvo, Vislab from University of Parma, Oxford University and Google.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] In July 2013, Vislab demonstrated BRAiVE, a vehicle that moved autonomously on a mixed traffic route open to public traffic.[14] As of 2013, four U.S. states have passed laws permitting autonomous cars: Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan.[15][16][17][18][19] In Europe, cities in Belgium, France, Italy and the UK are planning to operate transport systems for driverless cars,[20][21][22] and Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain have allowed testing robotic cars in traffic.

Achen Motor, a distributor of cars in Milwaukee and surrounding territory, used Francis' invention under the name 'Phantom Auto' and demonstrated it in December 1926 on the streets of Milwaukee.[1] It was demonstrated again in June 1932 on the streets of Fredericksburg as a feature attraction of Bigger Bargain Day in which most of the merchants of the city were participating.[23] An early representation of an automated guided car was Norman Bel Geddes's Futurama exhibit sponsored by General Motors at the 1939 World's Fair, which depicted radio-controlled electric cars that were propelled via electromagnetic fields provided by circuits embedded in the roadway.[24] Bel Geddes later outlined his vision in his book, Magic Motorways (1940), promoting advances in highway design and transportation, foreshadowing the Interstate Highway System, and arguing that humans should be removed from the process of driving.

They demonstrated autonomous driving in free lanes, convoy driving, and lane changes with autonomous passing of other cars.[citation needed] That same year, Lucas Industries developed parts for a semi-autonomous car in a project that was funded by Jaguar Cars, Lucas, and the UK Department of Trade and Industry.[40] In 1995, Carnegie Mellon University's Navlab project completed a 3,100 miles (5,000 km) cross-country journey, of which 98.2% was autonomously controlled, dubbed 'No Hands Across America'.[41] This car, however, was semi-autonomous by nature: it used neural networks to control the steering wheel, but throttle and brakes were human-controlled, chiefly for safety reasons.

Despite being a research system without emphasis on long distance reliability, it drove up to 98 miles (158 km) without human intervention.[citation needed] In 1996, (now Professor) Alberto Broggi of the University of Parma launched the ARGO Project, which worked on enabling a modified Lancia Thema to follow the normal (painted) lane marks in an unmodified highway.[42] The culmination of the project was a journey of 1,200 miles (1,900 km) over six days on the motorways of northern Italy dubbed Mille Miglia in Automatico ('One thousand automatic miles'), with an average speed of 56 miles per hour (90 km/h).[43] The car operated in fully automatic mode for 94% of its journey, with the longest automatic stretch being 34 miles (55 km).

Prize competitions as DARPA Grand Challenges gave students and researchers an opportunity to research a project on autonomous cars to reduce the burden of transportation problems such as traffic congestion and traffic accidents that increasingly exist on many urban residents.[48] In January 2006, the United Kingdom's 'Foresight' think-tank revealed a report which predicts RFID-tagged driverless cars on UK's roads by 2056 and the Royal Academy of Engineering claimed that driverless trucks could be on Britain's motorways by 2019.[49][50] In 1998, Willie Jones [51] states that many automakers consider autonomous technology as part of their research yearly.

BMW has been testing driverless systems since around 2005,[55][56] while in 2010, Audi sent a driverless Audi TTS to the top of Pike’s Peak at close to race speeds.[7] In 2011, GM created the EN-V (short for Electric Networked Vehicle), an autonomous electric urban vehicle.[57] In 2012, Volkswagen began testing a 'Temporary Auto Pilot' (TAP) system that will allow a car to drive itself at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) on the highway.[58] Ford has conducted extensive research into driverless systems and vehicular communication systems.[59] In January 2013, Toyota demonstrated a partially self-driving car with numerous sensors and communication systems.[9] Other programs in the field include the 2GetThere passenger vehicles from the Netherlands and the DARPA Grand Challenge in the USA;

The autonomous car passed the test, but was not tested at roundabouts, no-signal railroad crossings, or school zones.[54] In 2013, on July 12, VisLab conducted another pioneering test of autonomous vehicles, during which a robotic vehicle drove in downtown Parma with no human control, successfully navigating roundabouts, traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and other common hazards.[65] In August 2013, Daimler RD with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology/FZI, made a Mercedes-Benz S-class vehicle with close-to-production stereo cameraS[66] and radars drive completely autonomously for about 100 km from Mannheim to Pforzheim, Germany, following the historic Bertha Benz Memorial Route.[67][68] In August 2013 Nissan announced its plans to launch several driverless cars by 2020.

Nissan vice chairman Toshiyuki Shiga and the prefecture’s Governor, Yuji Kuroiwa, rode in the car during the test.[72][73] Available in 2013, the 2014 Mercedes S-Class has options for autonomous steering, lane keeping, acceleration/braking, parking, accident avoidance, and driver fatigue detection, in both city traffic and highway speeds of up to 124 miles (200 km) per hour.[74][75][76][77] Released in 2013, the 2014 Infiniti Q50 uses cameras, radar and other technology to deliver various lane-keeping, collision avoidance and cruise control features.

It is intended to shuttle people around 'pedestrianized city centers, large industrial sites, airports, theme parks, university campuses or hospital complexes.'[81] On May 27, 2014, Google[82] announced plans to unveil 100 autonomous car prototypes built from scratch inside Google's secret X lab, as manifestations of years of work that began by modifying existing vehicles, along with, 'in the next couple of years' according to Google in the above blog post, a pilot program similar to that which was used for the Cr-48 Chromebook back in 2010.

The system also provide autonomous parking and is able to receive software updates to improve skills over time.[83] As of March 2015[update], Tesla has been testing the autopilot system on the highway between San Francisco and Seattle with a driver but letting the car to drive the car almost unassisted.[84] In February 2015, the UK Government announced it would oversee public trials of the LUTZ Pathfinder driverless pod in Milton Keynes.[85] In March 2015 Tesla Motors announced that it will introduce its Autopilot technology by mid 2015 through a software update for the cars equipped with the systems that allow autonomous driving.[84] Some industry experts have raised questions about the legal status of autonomous driving in the U.S. and whether Model S owner would violate current state regulations when using the autopilot function.

[84] In mid October 2015 Tesla Motors rolled out version 7 of their software in the U.S. that included Autopilot capability.[88] On January 9, 2016, Tesla rolled out version 7.1 as an over-the-air update, adding a new 'summon' feature that allows cars to self-park at parking locations without the driver in the car.[89] Tesla's autonomous driving features are ahead of production cars, and can be classified as is somewhere between level 2 and level 3 under the NHTSA five levels of vehicle automation.

The XC90s will be leased to everyday users, and the self-driving cars will log each and every journey, passing on that data to Thatcham Research, which will conduct a thorough analysis to examine how the car behaves in everyday situations as well as understanding how other road users and the car’s occupants respond to autonomous driving decisions made by the car.[97] The first known fatal accident involving a vehicle being driven by itself took place in Williston, Florida on 7 May 2016 while a Tesla Model S electric car was engaged in Autopilot mode.

The car continued to travel after passing under the truck’s trailer.[98][99][100] The NHTSA's preliminary evaluation was opened to examine the design and performance of any automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash, which involves a population of an estimated 25,000 Model S cars.[101] In August 2016 Singapore launched the first self-driving taxi service, provided by nuTonomy.[102] Starting October 2016, all Tesla cars are built with the necessary hardware to allow full self-driving capability at a safety level (SAE Level 5).

The hardware includes eight surround cameras and twelve ultrasonic sensors, in addition to the forward-facing radar with enhanced processing capabilities.[103] The system will operate in 'shadow mode' (processing without taking action) and send data back to Tesla to improve its abilities until the software is ready for deployment via over-the-air upgrades.[104] Full autonomy is only likely after millions of miles of testing, and approval by authorities.

VisLab Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge

It ran from July 20, 2010 to October 28, 2010, involving four driverless vehicles driving with virtually no human intervention on an almost 16,000 kilometres (9,900 mi) trip from Parma, Italy to Shanghai, China.[1][2] [3]

VisLab, thanks to a project partially funded by ERC -the European Research Council- showed that one day it will be possible to move goods between two continents with non-polluting vehicles powered by green energy and with virtually no human intervention.

The aim was to test and stress the current technology in a unique event: non-polluting and non-oil based autonomous vehicles in real traffic conditions on an extreme journey between two continents, the final outcome being a huge dataset with a very large variety of situations to be further used to refine the onboard perception system.

The second vehicle automatically followed the route defined by the leader vehicle by following it either visually or thanks to GPS waypoints sent by the leader vehicle, therefore requiring no human intervention (100% autonomous).

Although the vehicles were electric and had solar panels on the roof, propulsion was not powered by the solar panels but by the original vehicle's batteries which were charged at power outlets or, when no power outlet was available, by generators.

BlackBerry could be the chauffeur in your future driverless car

BlackBerry’s(s bbry) QNX operating system may not be the hit in mobile phones that the company hoped, but one day QNX may be helping you with a different kind of mobility: the autonomous car.

In Deeva, Neutrino will fuse together the various real-time streams of camera and laser data collected from the car’s two dozen visual sensors, allowing the connected car to make instant decisions about trajectory, acceleration and braking as traffic conditions change and obstacles present itself.

As a new generation of cars emerge that can not only link to the internet but sense and react to their surroundings, a lot of companies  — from Qualcomm(s qcom) and Nvidia(s nvda) to Apple(s aapl) and Google(s goog) — have suddenly gotten interested in the inner workings of the automobile.

Driverless vans end long drive in Shanghai

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