Headlines 

Heat-Seeking Cameras Could Help Keep Self-Driving Cars Safe

After Uber’s fatal self-driving crash last month in Tempe, Arizona, most observers had two basic question: Why did the car not see Elaine Herzberg crossing the street and stop before hitting her? And how can we stop this happening again, to someone else? The ride-hailing company has indefinitely suspended its testing program, and is cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the crash. The NTSB hasn’t revealed any findings yet, but the lidar—the laser-shooting sensor that should have spotted Herzberg, even in the dark—is an obvious focus. Maybe…

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Headlines 

The Unavoidable Folly of Making Humans Train Self-Driving Cars

The British Royal Air Force had a problem. It was 1943, and the Brits were using radar equipment to spot German submarines sneaking around off the western coast of France. The young men sitting in planes circling over the Bay of Biscay had more than enough motivation to keep a watchful eye for the telltale blips on the screens in front of them. Yet they had a worrying tendency to miss the signals they’d been trained to spot. The longer they spent looking at the screen, the less reliable they…

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Headlines 

Why Tesla’s Autopilot Can’t See a Stopped Firetruck

On Monday, a Tesla Model S slammed into the back of a stopped firetruck on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles County. The driver apparently told the fire department the car was in Autopilot mode at the time. The crash highlighted the shortcomings of the increasingly common semi-autonomous systems that let cars drive themselves in limited conditions. This surprisingly non-deadly debacle also raises a technical question: How is it possible that one of the most advanced driving systems on the planet doesn't see a freaking fire truck, dead ahead? Tesla…

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Headlines 

Volvo admits its self-driving cars are confused by kangaroos

Swedish companys animal detection system can identify and avoid deer, elk and caribou, but is yet to work against the marsupials movements Volvos told the ABC the troubles had arisen because their cars object detection systems used the ground as a reference point. This meant a kangaroos hopping was making it difficult to judge how close they were. When its in the air, it actually looks like its further away, then it lands and it looks closer, he said. McCann added: Autonomous cars are a continuing development. A driverless car…

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Odds and Ends 

Ubers toxic culture risks its driverless future, too

So Ubers blowhard-in-chief Travis Kalanick is finally out, out as CEO after some of its most prominent investors put the squeeze on him to go (not just take a time out). Scandal after scandal has hammered the company in recent times, culminating in an external investigation into a corporate culture accused by a former female employee of being rife with sexism, aggression and inequality. Kalanicks aggressive style of management has been the Uber rule, not the exception and arguably, setting aside the current slew of internal scandals, the company has…

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Odds and Ends 

Survey says: Kids these days arent so into electric or autonomous vehicles

Conventional wisdom has kind of assumed that old fogies are Driving-Tests.org (DTO, for short) says otherwise. Not about the fogies theyre still afraid of self-driving electric cars but about the kids. They dont really like them either. DTO surveyed 158,000 visitors to its site in early April 2017 and asked them just four questions about electric cars, millennials between the ages of 13 and 35. So what did they find? Well, the first question was the most telling: Would you choose an self-driving car. People were also unsure about whether…

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Odds and Ends 

GM plans to deploy hundreds of autonomous vehicles across the country for testing

GM is looking to leapfrog its competitors in the autonomous driving space by deploying a larger fleet of cars than any of them perhaps as many as 300, according to documents obtained by IEEE Spectrum. An admirable bit of digging on some FCC applications showed an application to deploy 3,000 vehicular radar units, with 10 units per vehicle. Shortly thereafter, GM filed a request to deploy the same type of radar, though it declined to indicate how many. And after that, Bosch applied to test a different radar, with 650…

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