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LAPD BatCat remote controlled telehandler
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Volvo autonomous parking test vehicle

Autonomous automobiles are looking more like an inevitability, rather than a mere possibility. Benefits of self-driving cars include safe high-speed travel, optimized fuel economy, relaxed commuting, and self-parking features.
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According to Forbes, Google's development of a self-driving car could create trillions in economic impact. But, interestingly, not all will benefit.

As reported by Forbes: Just in the U.S., the car puts up for grab some $2 trillion a year in revenue and even more market cap. It creates business opportunities that dwarf Google's current search-based business and unleashes existential challenges to market leaders across numerous industries, including car makers, auto insurers, energy companies and others that share in car-related revenue.

Although autonomous cars could one day make us all safer and more efficient, certain industry sectors could see major economic side effects. For example, the auto industry would suffer once people only require one vehicle per family (as vehicles could conceivably be summoned remotely). In addition, hospitals would take in fewer patients, insurance companies would see car-related claims plummet and municipalities would collect far fewer traffic fines.
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Lexus Autonomous Car CES 2013

Automakers continued the trend of increasing their presence at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2013. Most big car companies were represented--even Subaru showed off an upgraded headunit--while some beefed up their exhibit booths significantly.

There are still some asking if CES is the right place to show off the latest automotive innovations, considering all the dedicated auto shows the industry already enjoys. Thankfully, carmakers seem to understand CES is more about onboard apps than horsepower.
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TEDxStanford autonomous cars

From driverless drifting to computerized operation at 150 mph, it appears that--provided the proper algorithm--autonomous cars can do it all. But how well do they compare to the best drivers among their human counterparts?

That's precisely what Dr. Chris Gerdes of Stanford University's Center for Automotive Research and Revs Program has decided to find out. Watch Gerdes' TEDxStanford talk below for a glimpse into his research:

Perhaps, as Gerdes suggests, the end game for advancements in autonomous driving technology could actually be human driver assistance, rather than replacement. That's a relief; otherwise, we look forward to seeing you at a Real Steel racing series event in the not too distant future.
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TRANSLOGIC world report

Welcome to
TRANSLOGIC World Report: Your weekly roundup of transportation tech news from around the web.
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Bill Nye and an autonomous Audi TT

As kids, many of us were conditioned to develop an affinity for Bill Nye. Think about it. If you were watching his popular educational show Bill Nye The Science Guy it meant either one of two things: you were sitting at home enjoying a strong 90's-era lineup of after-school programming on PBS, or your science teacher didn't show up for class again and you were actually watching TV in school. Either way, you were happy.
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Future cabs won't have drivers
Autonomous transportation is coming whether you like it or not and the vision of the future is full of robots, driverless vehicles and auto-pods, like the one Masdar City have created. The company's concept is being billed as the world's first trackless Personal Transportation System (PRT), complete with four seats and the (theoretical) ability to take wherever you'd like to go, minus the driver.

Although Masdar City is smaller than your typical sprawling metropolis – more like a collection of buildings and few roads that developers and researchers call home – the pods can shuttle around 1,600 meters, making stops along the way. While the project has made leaps and bounds in the progress department, these futuristic pods have a few more hurdles to clear before coming to fruition. See the pods in action in the video below.

[Via: Autoblog Green]
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It's safe to assume that no one has ever wielded a Toyota Prius in anger. And that's still true. At last week's TED conference Google brought out one of its autonomous hybrids to show off to attendees, and The Big G's engineers had it squealing tires and clipping cones at the top of a parking structure.

The crew from SearchEngineLand posted two videos of the driverless Prius in action – one from outside and another rare glimpse from within – and what's even cooler than the technotronic boot-up sequence is the incessant beeping from the Toyota's traction control as it blasts around the makeshift autocross course. Impressive. Now the ball's in Audi's court to show how its TTS can handle the rigors of Pikes Peak.

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Audi Autonomous TTS

A recent study by Accenture found that consumers are all about new, innovative solutions for their lives, but "are frustrated with frequently used electronic devices that freeze or crash." We hear that. But here's the most intriguing statistic from their survey: 49% of people polled say they'd be comfortable using a driverless car.

The survey asked 2,000 British and American consumers a range of questions about how they use their gadgets and what features they want in future models. The general gist of the study is that people are more interested in smarter devices that can do things automatically, including smartphones, home appliances and, yes, even vehicles. And they're willing to pay more for the privilege.

While the study primarily focused on consumer electronics and what people want in future models, the driverless car statistic is further proof that more and more people are open to the idea of an autonomous vehicle and that our constantly-connected lives require a readjustment of what we expect to accomplish while on the go. The full study is worth a read and you can check it out below.

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Accenture Survey Finds Consumers in US and UK Frustrated with Intelligent Devices That Frequently Crash or Freeze (17/2/2011)

Express willingness to pay more for smarter devices

According to a new Accenture (NYSE: ACN) survey, more than half American and British consumers say they are frustrated with frequently used electronic devices that freeze or crash, and seek better performing devices built on smarter, more innovative "embedded technology" designed to be flexible to meet a wide range of end-user needs. In addition, they expressed a willingness to pay more for intelligent devices that perform better, look to embedded technology to drive new smart features that can help them save money and make their lives easier, and prefer quality over quantity.

The survey of more than 2,000 consumers probed for current opinions and frustrations with the performance of many electronic devices in common use today including mobile phones, TVs, computers, digital cameras, GPS systems and household appliances. The survey also explored aspirations to use innovative, alternative solutions for home automation, energy consumption and transportation.

"As consumers accumulate and rely on more devices to help manage their lives, they are becoming increasingly frustrated with devices that frequently crash or don't work as well as expected," said Jean-Laurent Poitou, global managing director of Accenture Embedded Software Services "The 'cool factor' is no longer enough. Consumers, especially younger ones, seek simpler, more intelligent devices with just the right number of useful functionalities."

Fifty one percent expressed some frustration with at least one of their more frequently used devices in the last six months. Device crashing (that is, freezing, not responding, and needing to be restarted) is by far the most common source of frustration - cited by 39 percent of respondents. This was twice as much as other causes such as concerns over privacy and data security, too much effort being required to use the device, and limited functionality. This number increased to 49 percent among those aged 18 - 24, suggesting that younger people have less patience when it comes to devices not functioning properly.

More than a quarter of respondents said they are frustrated when using their mobile phone applications (wishing it could do more things automatically), while also expressing frustration with their TV sets, cars and computers. While UK consumers experienced more device crashes (43 percent to 35 percent of those in the US), more US consumers felt their devices had limited functionality (18 percent vs. 13 percent of those in the UK).

Keep it simple

When asked if they had advice for engineers who design their devices, 53 percent of respondents said they should keep it simple. At the same time, 53 percent also said they would like to be surprised by new innovations and wait for the next great generation of devices (a number which rose to 59 percent among those 18 - 24). And 43 percent said that engineers would be better off focusing on a limited number of useful functionalities/applications rather than developing many they will never use.

Paying more for these devices would not be a concern, as half of all respondents said they would be ready to spend extra to get smarter devices that could do more things automatically and autonomously. Seventeen percent would pay up to 10 percent more, another twenty percent said they would be ready to pay up to 5 percent more, and another ten percent said they would pay up to 20 or 30 percent more. US consumers appear slightly more willing to pay extra (52 percent vs. 48 percent in the UK), particularly for mobile phones and computers.

The survey found strong market potential for devices that can ease consumer frustrations and deliver clear benefits (in terms of saving money and time, making their lives easier and their homes more energy efficient.) This included energy efficiency solutions (with 73 percent expressing interest), smart home appliances such as washing machines and TVs (66 percent), and car sensors to optimize car insurance premiums (63 percent). About half of respondents (49 percent) said they would be comfortable using a driverless car.

The survey also highlights that benefits need to justify the spend, since cost was found to be the overwhelming reason (81 percent) discouraging consumers from using completely new innovative solutions - at least initially or until reassured on the cost of purchase. Other prohibitive factors impeding use of innovative solutions were data privacy and security (48 percent), and the reliability or readiness of the solution (41 percent).

"Users are increasingly interested in the prospect that smarter collection and processing of individual information could lead to them paying lower prices," added Poitou. "For example, they could pay less on car insurance if 'black box' data proves they drive more safely than average drivers; and they could pay less for electricity if they modify the timing of use of various household appliances, to better align with the needs of power supply companies. The challenge for the industry is to find ways to engineer these innovative uses of embedded technology to deliver cost savings in ways that are reliable and easy-to-understand."


Accenture's survey of 2,006 consumers in the US and the UK was conducted online in November and December 2010. The sample is representative of the general population in terms of gender, age and income in both countries. The survey sought to determine the current frustrations with how some devices/appliances/machines used in everyday life currently "perform" for consumers. It also explored consumer aspirations to use innovative, alternative solutions that most people don't contemplate but are, or will be available in the near future, and in some cases are already used in some parts of the world.
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