Wednesday, January 23, 2013

China Gets in on the Self-Driving Boom

Joining Toyota, Google, and Audi, China's Army (PLA) announced earlier this month that it has tested its own self-driving car. Code named "Lion No. 3", the car apparently hit a top speed of 105/kmh (65 mph), and overtook 33 cars in 85 minutes in recent tests on China's roads.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Toyota Announces that It is Also Testing a Driver-Assisting Car -- in Michigan

 Like Google and Audi, Toyota has joined the ranks of high-tech car creators, with an announcement earlier this month that it has been testing its own version of a car. But unlike Google and Audi, which are heading down the path of autonomy, Toyota/Lexus appear to be focusing on smart technologies that will aid the human driver -- but leave him or her in control. Dubbed the Integrated Safety Management Concept (ISMC), Toyota analogizes the system to other advances in safety, like Anti-lock Brakes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Interacting with the Driverless Car

Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic had an interesting "back to the future" moment when filming a demonstration of the Audi driverless-car system; he was reminded of the reaction that early 20th-century farmers had when confronting an automobile for the first time. See the video for more.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

AI Creates Classical Music

Spanish researchers are developing a new kind of AI software that can make classical music on its own. Iamus (named after Greek god of music) uses the 12-note "Western" scale currently, but its programmers are currently adding "Eastern" (Hindu and Arab) scales, and the expectation is that the program will eventually merge the different sounds into something new.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Audi Authorized by Nevada for Driverless Car

Audi has become the first car manufacturer to receive a license from the State of Nevada (and second company overall after Google) for use of the State's roads by a driverless car. Audi is scheduled to unveil its advances in the robotic technology later this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Forbes article

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Information Emerges About Air France Flight 447

More than two years after the Airbus 330 crashed, new information has emerged thanks to locating and recovering the "black box" flight data recorder. In short, human error caused the crash of AF 447. But the human error was in the face of -- and in some cases, enhanced by -- advanced autopilot functions that the human pilots were relying upon. Because they trusted the Airbus to "self-correct", the inexperienced pilots continued to fly the plane in the face of stall alarms. If they had been flying a much less sophisticated vehicle, it seems unlikely that they would not have taken corrective action and avoided the catastrophe. The Popular Mechanics article shows one of the problems that can emerge when "artificial intelligence" is relied upon in the face of other empirical data. Popular Mechanics article

Obama Signs "Fiscal Cliff" Bill with Help of Robot

Having departed Washington shortly before midnight on January 1st to return to his family's vacation spot in Hawaii, President Obama nonetheless was able to sign the so-called "Fiscal Cliff" bill, thanks to a robotic autopen that has its roots in the Jeffersonian era. President George W. Bush's White House first asserted the legality of a President signing (of a law) via autopen, but did not use it; Obama became the first President to actually do so, first with the extension of the PATRIOT Act, and then again this week. ">National Journal article