Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dummin' Down - NOT

I have no problem with automation and safety advances, as long as they are reliable, effective and make sense, which is more than I can say for some of the accepted safety practices and culture today. I have no problem with cars that drive themselves as long as skilled drivers are still allowed to use and hone their own skills, for reasons that should be obvious, reasons that have to do with superior sophistication ('you can't improve on God') and fulfillment of joy. We need these advances. They are important and they are of God. It is also important to preserve a culture that cultivates and encourages human physical strength, dexterity, endurance and thus, joy, within the work-a-day world as well as in the world of recreation and sports. Read on: UK Researchers Develop Self-Driving Vehicle That Uses Lasers To See. The Guardian (UK) (2/15, Arthur) reports, "Scientists at Oxford University have developed a self-driving car that can cope with snow, rain and other weather conditions." Developed by a team of researchers led by professor Paul Newman at Oxford University, the vehicle "will halt for pedestrians, and could take over the tedious parts of driving such as negotiating traffic jams or regular commutes." The Daily Telegraph (UK) (2/15) reports, "The system works by producing a 3D image of the route using lasers attached to the front and a camera mounted on the roof. The sensors map the route but also pick up unfamiliar objects such as pedestrians." The Daily Mail (UK) (2/15, Hull) reports, "It asks the driver via an iPad on the dashboard whether they want to engage the autopilot and, at a touch of the screen, the car takes over the controls. A laser under the front bumper scans the direction of travel around 13 times per second for obstacles, such as pedestrians, cyclists, or other cars, up to 164ft ahead and in an 85 degree field of view. If the car sees an obstacle, it slows and comes to a controlled stop. The driver can also tap the brake pedal, like in current cruise control systems, to regain control from the computer at any time." UK's The Engineer (2/15) reports, "The researchers decided to avoid using GPS because they felt it could not provide the coverage, precision, and reliability autonomous cars need to safely navigate and doesn't give enough information about the car's surroundings.'Our approach is made possible because of advances in 3D laser mapping that enable an affordable car-based robotic system to rapidly build up a detailed picture of its surroundings,' said Newman." The next part "of the research, led by Dr Ingmar Posner, will involve enabling the new robotic system to understand complex traffic flows and make decisions on its own about which routes to take." BBC News (2/15, Lee) reports, "At the moment, the complete system costs around £5,000 - but Prof Newman hopes that future models will bring the price of the technology down to as low as £100." The Scotsman (UK) (2/15, Woodman) and other media sources also cover the story.