GM’s Taub: self-driving vehicles could be ready by end of decade
17 October 2011
Vehicles that partially drive themselves will be available by the middle of the decade with more sophisticated self-driving systems by the end of the decade, General Motors Vice President of Global Research and Development Alan Taub told the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Orlando on Sunday. These advances in autonomous vehicle technology are built on leading-edge advanced active safety systems, Taub said.
Sensors, radars, portable communication devices, GPS and cameras are the tools that supply critical information to the driver and the automobile’s computer system. Combined with digital maps, the same technologies will allow the driver to let the vehicle concentrate on driving while he or she does something else.
The technologies we’re developing will provide an added convenience by partially or even completely taking over the driving duties. The primary goal, though, is safety. Future generation safety systems will eliminate the crash altogether by interceding on behalf of drivers before they’re even aware of a hazardous situation.—Alan Taub
GM and other automakers are already putting some of these advanced safety systems into their vehicles.
Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems gather information from other vehicles, roadways and traffic signals to warn drivers about possible hazards ahead, including slowed or stalled vehicles, hard-braking drivers, slippery roads, sharp curves and upcoming stop signs and intersections. These systems, on display this week at the ITS World Congress, can be embedded in the vehicle or be added as applications to portable devices/smartphones that connect wirelessly to the vehicle.
GM’s Chevrolet EN-V urban mobility concept (earlier post) combines GPS with vehicle-to-vehicle communications and distance-sensing technologies to enable autonomous driving. The EN-V’s capabilities being demonstrated at the ITS World Congress include pedestrian detection, collision avoidance, platooning and automated parking and retrieval, where the EN-V drops off its driver, parks itself and then returns to pick up the driver via commands from a smartphone.
In the coming years, we believe the industry will experience a dramatic leap in active safety systems, and, hopefully, a dramatic decline in injuries and fatalities on our roadways. GM has made a commitment to be at the forefront of this development.—Alan Taub
GM has been a leader in developing autonomous vehicle technology, having worked with Carnegie Mellon University to develop the “The Boss” Chevrolet Tahoe that brought autonomous vehicle operation to life in 2007 and won the DARPA Urban Challenge. The event required teams to build a driverless vehicle capable of driving in traffic and performing complex maneuvers such as merging, passing, parking and negotiating intersections over a 60-mile course.
This will be a definite improvement since we already have the first part: drivers that let the vehicle concentrate on driving while he or she does something else.
Posted by: ToppaTom | 17 October 2011 at 04:47 AM
Excellent way to reduce 80% of today's road accidents which are due to bad risky driving. An auto-pilot could also reduce fuel consumption, pollution and brake/engine wear.
Of course, today's bad drivers could continue to play with their cell phone without current impacts.
Posted by: HarveyD | 17 October 2011 at 08:41 AM
Imagine saving up so you can buy that brand new Porsche Turbo Carrera with leather seats and the... auto-pilot drive system? Wait... didn't we buy this buggy so WE could drive it?
Naw... That would be FUN. And the brave new world eschews fun - doesn't it? Eff FUN, bring on the robots!
Of course crash intervention by ai systems IS a safety feature that does not take the fun out of driving fun cars.
Posted by: Reel$$ | 17 October 2011 at 12:54 PM
Fun Driving is for the race tracks NOT for highways and streets.
We will have to learn the difference if we want to stop killing 40,000+ of us every year and over 400,000 serious costly injuries a years.
Too many of us are still mixed up or have failed to grow up.
Posted by: HarveyD | 17 October 2011 at 02:07 PM
No one said you can't have fun AND safety together. At some point you gotto lighten up and live a little.
Posted by: Reel$$ | 17 October 2011 at 06:31 PM
With automatic wireless communication among vehicles, the driver of a vehicle behind can have info on the speed and acceleration of many vehicles ahead, thereby can slowdown and speed up in order to avoid multi-car pile-up in the case of bad weather or a careless driver in front. Likewise, this can also enable platooning that can significantly decrease traffic congestion due to higher throughput of roadways.
Likewise, it would be nice to know the speed and presence of vehicles on intersecting streets to take precaution in case someone fails to stop at traffic light or stop sign.
Furthermore, artificial intelligence can be programmed to detect impaired driver and take proper actions to prevent an accident. Perhaps an on-board breath analyzer (fuel cell) can detect drunk driver and refuse to start the engine. There is no need to replace an alert and safe driver.
The liability would be too high for manufacturers of driverless vehicles should a crash occur, when a computer crash may well be the end of the vehicle, or would require a lot more than a simple reboot.
Posted by: Roger Pham | 17 October 2011 at 06:54 PM
I agree with RP but not with Reel$$ on this one.
Posted by: HarveyD | 18 October 2011 at 08:58 AM
By the way, since commercial planes were equipped with collision avoidance units, that type of controller/pilot made accidents stopped. Many lives were saved. Similar units on ground vehicles could save up to 1000 times more lives and injuries etc.
Posted by: HarveyD | 19 October 2011 at 09:23 AM
I don't believe the cars will be autonomous. GM will put controls in the car so that the driver can exceed the speed limit. Most people feel they have the right to speed and they won't buy a car in which it is impossible. However, if somebody is caught speeding in an autonomous car, the driver can blame it on GM, because the car's trip recorded data won't be admissible as evidence that the driver set the speed at 50 in a 35 zone. If the republicans on the debate last night had any balls, they would tell how to save 10,000 lives a year now with legislation for GM to put automatic speed controls in cars now.
Posted by: Zhukova | 19 October 2011 at 09:36 AM
"Robots will be the death of us." will smith
Posted by: Reel$$ | 19 October 2011 at 01:29 PM
"Will Smith is an actor." reality
It's hard to imagine that cars won't come with the ability to use or not use autonomous mode. Just like cruise control.
It's highly likely that cars will record whether the driver was making decisions prior to an accident. Recorded data certainly will be admissible in court. Defense attorneys will have the right to challenge their accuracy but over time that should be a losing battle.
Posted by: Bob Wallace | 20 October 2011 at 11:55 AM
"Some one remarked that the best way to unite all the nations on this globe would be an attack from some other planet. In the face of such an alien enemy, people would respond with a sense of their unity of interest and purpose.” Ronald Reagan, actor and President - reality
Posted by: Reel$$ | 20 October 2011 at 06:53 PM