Posts from ‘Autonomous Cars’


Autonomous Driving LevelsIf there is an automotive analogy to the concept of a shadow government, it’s the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Although there’s nothing actually shadowy about the group, its members do establish a considerable number of standards and general guidelines by which the industry regulates and organizes itself. The SAE does this while having no direct relationship with any car manufacturer or the government.

GM Key to the Future video

In the 1956 short film “Key to the Future,” General Motors predicted a hands-free driving system not unlike the Cadillac Super Cruise option due for 2018.

The 2018 Cadillac CT6 is slated to offer Super Cruise–General Motors’ first true hands-free driving technology–when the car goes on sale this fall. That’s great, but we think GM had autonomous driving nailed more than 60 years ago. Well, maybe not nailed, but the company certainly had a good handle on what hands-free driving might look like one day. In the promotional film “Key to the Future,” GM explores the possibility of hands-free driving from the perspective of a family of vacationers. The film was first seen in 1956 as part of GM’s annual touring Motorama exhibition.

Waymo Pacifica

Google’s “Waymo” autonomous-vehicle initiative includes evaluation of 100 specially equipped Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

As seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the Kobayashi Maru is a Star Fleet Academy training exercise designed to test the character of cadets. The Maru simulation forces cadets to choose between ignoring a dire request for assistance by a stranded ship (the Kobayashi Maru), or staging a rescue of the ship–despite strong indicators that the distress call is a trap set by an enemy.

Last real cars, End Of The Car

We may be sun-setting the driver-involvement era, but Tom is reasonably OK with that.

The evidence has been piling up for a while now, but the verdict is unavoidable: The traditional automobile is all but dead.

There are a couple of paths we can take to reach this conclusion, and a couple of different definitions of “dead” that we can employ, but there’s one particular path and one outcome that I am most saddened by.

Autonomous Car Fear

Why drive when you can play Scrabble? Seems we’re closing in on building viable driverless vehicles, but is the buying public ready to let computers do the driving?

The auto industry has thrust a great deal on the buying public in the last decade or so. After about a century of fairly predictable motoring progress, car builders rather suddenly began throwing once-unheard-of options at consumers.

Steve Mahan drives Google's self-driving car

Steve Mahan, who is legally blind, “drives” Google’s self-driving car.

Google’s self-driving cars have been on the road for more than a year now. This week, a DMV in Nevada issued the first driver’s license for this vehicle, with the condition that there are two people in the car at all times. Using a vast array of technology—including a laser radar on the roof to detect cars, people, and other objects—the self-driving car has been remarkably effective. And it’s not as scary as it seems. The driver can take control of the car simply by pressing the brake or touching the steering wheel.

David Hasselhoff and KITT in “Knight Rider”, Cadillac Super Cruise

David Hasselhoff and KITT in “Knight Rider”

Where have you gone, David Hasselhoff? Detroit turns its lonely (electronic) eyes to you.

Cadillac is road-testing a system designed to automatically steer, brake, and keep a car centered in a lane. In other words, drive itself. General Motors’ luxury-car division calls this system Super Cruise and says it could find its way to showrooms by the middle of this decade.

We’re not making this stuff up. But somebody did. In the Eighties. For a television show. They called it KITT.

Cadillac Super Cruise Video

Cadillac Super Cruise Video

Earlier this morning, GM released a video of its “self-driving” car. In the video, Cadillac demonstrates “semi-autonomous” technology that it calls “Super Cruise.” A car equipped with this technology is capable of fully automatic steering, braking, and lane-centering in highway driving under certain optimal conditions. GM states that the system could be ready for production vehicles by the mid-2010s.