Vehicles

California OKs Driverless Cars

HDR Remap

This week Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB1298, legalizing driverless cars in California. Some people are concerned about the safety risks of these robot cars. At the signing, Google's Sergey Brin said, "You can count on one hand the number of years it will take before ordinary people can experience this." Google's been testing their driverless cars for miles and miles. (For more background, see Sebastian Thrun's TED Talk.)

Autonomous vehicle research has been progressing for decades. It was part of USDOT's IVHS (Intelligent Vehicle and Highway Systems), what we now know as Intelligent Transportation Systems. For the history of research in the field, just look at TRID and how certain concepts have evolved. Autonomous land vehicles (Qbddkmb) shows the clear relationship to some military efforts. The same can be said for Autonomous vehicle guidance (Dcmvgyh). Connected vehicles are a bit trickier since you have to look at Vehicle to roadside communications (Dsbnu) and Vehicle to vehicle communications (Dsbnw), and Vehicular ad hoc networks as well.

So we might not have Herbie the Love Bug quite yet, but researchers are bringing us quite close to it.

 

Reducing Environmental Impacts in California through Highspeed Rail, Efficient Cars and Aircraft

CA High-Speed Rail Design Concept: Fresno Station Area Growth

A new paper in Environmental Research Letters by Arizona State's Mikhail Chester and UC Berkeley's Arpad Horvath assess the potential environmental impact of California Highspeed Rail, more efficient automobiles and aricraft for transportation through the California Corridor.

Sustainable mobility policy for long-distance transportation services should consider emerging automobiles and aircraft as well as infrastructure and supply chain life-cycle effects in the assessment of new high-speed rail systems. Using the California corridor, future automobiles, high-speed rail and aircraft long-distance travel are evaluated, considering emerging fuel-efficient vehicles, new train designs and the possibility that the region will meet renewable electricity goals. An attributional per passenger-kilometer-traveled life-cycle inventory is first developed including vehicle, infrastructure and energy production components. A consequential life-cycle impact assessment is then established to evaluate existing infrastructure expansion against the construction of a new high-speed rail system. The results show that when using the life-cycle assessment framework, greenhouse gas footprints increase significantly and human health and environmental damage potentials may be dominated by indirect and supply chain components. The environmental payback is most sensitive to the number of automobile trips shifted to high-speed rail, and for greenhouse gases is likely to occur in 20–30 years. A high-speed rail system that is deployed with state-of-the-art trains, electricity that has met renewable goals, and in a configuration that endorses high ridership will provide significant environmental benefits over existing modes. Opportunities exist for reducing the long-distance transportation footprint by incentivizing large automobile trip shifts, meeting clean electricity goals and reducing material production effects.

The full paper and supplemental data can be found here.

How much longer do we have to wait for cars that drive themselves?

Google Self-Driving Car

Today Greater Greater Washington blogged about the prospect of self-driving cars.

Whether we are prepared for it or not, the next revolution in transportation will be here soon, and it won't be streetcars, monorails, segways, or electric vehicles. It will be self-driving cars, and the adoption of this technology will change everything we accept as a given in the field of transportation planning.

They also link to a Washingtonian interview with Michael Pack, director of the CATT Laboratory at the University of Maryland, and noted transportation technologist. He sees autonomous vehicles as a potential solution for congestion, "Completely automated cars that take the driver out of the equation, communicate with one another, and can travel at high speeds within six inches of one another."

Will Hansfield on Greater Greater Washington projects that we might see self driving cars commercialy viable in the US in the next 7-12 years. Given the clip of research, it might not be far off. Looking at "intelligent vehicles" research in TRID, automation is trend that has been becoming more common over the years. From cyber cars to intercontinental van journeys, integrated systems for autonomous vehicles are coming.

The PATH program from ITS Berkeley has been looking at autonomous vehicles for quite a while now. Though the most famous driverless cars might be the new fleet from Google. Sorry KITT.

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