The era of the driverless vehicle is coming fast.  The Observer says that 30 US cities will have driverless cars, buses and other vehicles operating on their roads by the end of 2016. The trials will be run by Comet LLC, a consulting firm focused on automated vehicle commercialization. The vehicles themselves, which are all developed by Veeo Systems, will vary from two-seaters to full-size buses that can transport 70 people. At some locations, the vehicles will drive on their own paths, occasionally crossing vehicle and pedestrian traffic, while at others, the vehicles will be completely integrated with existing cars.

The UK will begin running driverless vehicle tests this year in Greenwich, London. Called GATEway, the project will consist of public self-driving shuttles that will link residents to transport hubs and other destinations in the city, carrying eight to ten passengers at a time. Upon entering the shuttles, each passenger chooses from the pre-determined destinations on the touch screen, and then the computer determines and readjusts the route as riders hop on and off. These shuttles will drive along their own route but must cross pedestrian and vehicle traffic at times. Lasers will enable the cars to determine when it’s safe to cross and also to spot obstructions. with video; GATEway website.)

NBC informs us an autonomous car created by Delphi Automotive completed a 3,400 mile trip across the US this week, arriving in New York City nine days after its departure from San Francisco. The car was a modified Audi Q4 SUV equipped with cameras, laser rangefinders and other high-tech equipment that enabled the car to watch the road. (with video)

A driverless car city is being set up at a US university. M City will be a 23-acre mini-metropolis at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where automakers can test autonomous cars to prepare for the driverless future expected within a decade. It will begin operation in late June. The facility will be outfitted with 40 building facades, angled intersections, a traffic circle, a bridge, a tunnel, gravel roads, and plenty of obstructed views. There’s even a four-lane highway with entrance and exit ramps to test how cars without a driver would merge. “Mechatronic pedestrians” who occasionally pop out into traffic will provide a critical measure of whether sensors and automatic brakes can react in time to avoid running down a real person. Building facades can be rearranged to add to the chaos confronting the chip-controlled vehicles. Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda Motor and Nissan Motor are lending their technical expertise to M City.  See Bloomberg, Crash Testing Driverless Cars in a Robot City

Tesla Motors plans to offer a driverless version of its Model S sedan this summer, and GM says it will introduce hands-free highway driving technology on a Cadillac in two years. The first totally self-driving vehicles will likely arrive on public roadways within five years, Ford Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields said in January.

Boston Consulting Group projects the market for driverless technology—everything from collision-avoidance sensors to microchips capable of processing life-or-death decisions in a millisecond—will grow to $42 billion annually by 2025, and self-driving cars may account for a quarter of global auto sales by 2035.

 

 

Forbes has a two-part series entitled How Far Away Is Driverless Technology Really?  You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

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