Could it happen...vehicle w/ memory

I know that this may be a little far fetched and expensive RIGHT NOW, but for future’s sake…

Do you think that we will soon be able to design a vehicle with a memory to take us to destination “B” then back to destination “A”? With this also, include parimeters of distance between our vehicle and other objects on the road. Traffic signals and signs would be able to report to our vehicles computer.

I, for one, know of many things that I could be doing rather than wasting an hour of my time driving to work and back. I could be making notes and drawing new possible ideas or even reading a newspaper.

Think about it…it would be like having our own personal taxi cab. Some of the elderly loose their license, our children have to be to school the same time we have leave for work, and SOME of us loose our license because (lets face it) we drive like idiots.

What do you think?

ooOOooh! a boundary pusher!

yeah…i’m feeling you on this one. maybe not totally like the movie “minority report” where buildings can scale vertical roads…but certainly a partially, or totally, auto-pilot is within reach.

at this link are some movies that show how robots can do some environment recognition:

couple that technology into your car and it would be possible. feasible and affordable are of course debatable.

actually, this is one of the reasons why i really love games like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. what you have is a visual database of a city where you could drive around and not only familiarize yourself with a place you haven’t been, but also quickly learn shortcuts. then, say you get to that city, you already know how to navigate main streets and back-alleys. download this knowledge to your 911 Turbo and your set. sit back and doodle and when necessary, you can intervene. it does seem that society may be ready for technology to do some driving since people are so easily distracted:

having technology as a redundant feature to be aware when humans are not aware while driving makes sense.

speaking of vehicles with memories…there is this competition:

This idea has been around almost as long as automobiles themselves. If it weren’t for other cars on the road, we could probably have cars like this already. With GPS, and modern computer technology, I think it would be easy to make a car drive itself along a desired path. The difficult part comes from car-car interaction. Once we interduce them, we have to equipe our car of the future with all kinds of sensors to ‘see’ other vehicles, and attempt to avoid them.

In the real world, two concepts come to mind for me:

  1. Mercedes SL - the current model comes equiped with a cruise control system that will slow down to maintain a safe following distance. I believe the car can even use its brakes to slow itself down!

  2. USC or UCLA had maybe 5 Buicks that had a computer system that would allow them to travel on the interstate at 65 mph with about 3 feet between the cars. If I recall correctly, the cars would ‘talk’ to each other to allow them to instantly brake together if the car in front needs to make a panic stop. I believe they also followed some sensors buried in the road, so this approach would take not just an expensive car, but also an expensive infrastructure investment.

Lastly, I think this all shows just how primative our technology is versus our own brains, or even those of animals. There are some animals that can hit 40-60 mph, and they rarely have accidents.

Jerry, I am sharing your enthusiasm. I went to the website above and found that the challenge entry deadline ended already, however I found this in the Q&A.

"Q10. What happens if no vehicle completes the Challenge?

A10. DARPA will run the Grand Challenge for Autonomous Ground Vehicles approximately annually until there is a winner, or until the Congressional authority to award the cash prize expires (currently in 2007)."

For a product designer, this would be something to have in a designers portfolio. Engineering, makes the designer more versitile.

Why not let go of the autonomous vehicle idea and rethink public transportation, or rethink the way people live, with so much distance between home and work…? Yep, you’re really pushin’ the boundaries there…

Tobot, thank you for pointing me back in the right direction.

I believe the reason why jerry mentioned the competition, is because I am having difficulties finding a competition to enter, which was mentioned in one of my previous posts. However, since then I have been able to expand my Competition Favorites folder to about 20 by now.

But again, thank you

Why not let go of the autonomous vehicle idea and rethink public transportation, or rethink the way people live, with so much distance between home and work…? Yep, you’re really pushin’ the boundaries there…

point well taken.

My thinking however is that autonomy in vehicles is the future of transportation.

i recently saw a movie “winged migration”:

which featured some really amazing footage of birds. What I found to be the most impressive was that birds (as individuals) can take-off, join a flock with HUNDREDS of other birds, change direction in numerous dynamic vectors seemingly with no or little collision, and then land…on water, in a tree, on a telephone wire, or even a cliffside, as an indivdiual unit…safely. as mentioned in the movie, the Arctic Tern migrates over 12,000 miles from the north to the south pole…safely. in the course of this migratory period, birds that fall by the wayside do so, i suspect, mostly from predation or mechanical failure. as a whole, the flock survives due to its large numbers. this behavior that allows birds to flock, i’ve learned is known as emergent behavior.

it’s also evident in other migratory animals like fish and wildebeast:

do we humans have this trait? imagine standing in space and having a person under your feet, above your head, to either side of you, and one in front and behind you. now imagine being able to commute and not run into each other in any given direction. we can’t even go in one direction without having an accident. why is this? unlike fish, birds, and wildebeast, we aren’t thinking about the need to stay alive during our commute. instead, we’re reading the paper, shaving, putting on make-up, talking on the cell-phone, or plain just spacing out, because i guess, surviving isn’t just that important when operating a 3000 lb. vehicle. so, from an ergonomic and human-factors perspective, perhaps we should design the product around the person and not have the person adapt to the product. the only time we can really migrate in large numbers at high rates of speed is when we’re racing.

whether in a slow-moving or fast-moving object, in racing at least, we all have one common goal…to finish. and our transportation, public or private, should have that characteristic programmed into it. our transportation’s desire to complete the task at hand will, hopefully, guarantee our own survival. humans apparently have other things to worry about.

Good thoughts Jerry.

I have some comments though:

  1. Humans natural top speed is only 23 mph on foot, at least olympic sprinter top speed. But a car has us traveling 3-4 times that (legally) and we are expected to maintain control. I would suspect our brains just aren’t wired for these conditions.

  2. I think I agree about your point on human factors. I think engineers have managed to make 80+mph far too cozy. When I used to drive my 1974 914, it was damn scary at 65 mph! It was possible to feel it moving around quite a bit on the road, and it was quite noisy. I never felt safe going faster! In my 1995 Honda though, 100 feels like nothing. Of course, my memories of the 914 keep me driving around 60 mph.

Anyways, maybe we should design cars to feel un-safe?

  1. As for autonomous transport being the future…I don’t know what you are envisioning, but it reminded me of what the architect Soleri said at a town meeting in Phoenix. Someone asked him what he though of the automobile and he responded:

“You have a 150 lbs. human being transported in a 3000 lbs. machine. Does that sound efficient?”

I guess he is a motorcycle fan hehe;)

Jerry, you do have a good point, however…

In races of any form, everyone is traveling to the same destination, but as individuals, in everyday life, most/many of us do not have the same destination, nor do we leave from the same point.

Moving forward, I believe you are right about the “autonomy in vehicles is the future of transportation” and not only that, but it is within reach for the consumer market in the NEAR future. The US military will be using the results of the R&D provided by the competition, with plans of implementing the autonomous vehicle by the year 2015 to be used in 1/3 of military vehicles. The consumer market could also use this information, (wether the author of intellectual property uses this information to supply a vehicle to the consumer market, or sells his information to the big three) understanding the fact that the competition is based on OSHA standards and not military specification. OSHA standards are definitely within economic reach, more so than military specifications.

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1.) running is the fastest form of self-locomotion that a person can accomplish. it was interesting to read an article a few years ago in i.d. magazine about aimee mullins who had her legs removed below the knee. she had two sets of artificial legs: one for aesthetics which looked like real legs and another set specifically for running:

the person that designed those, who also had artificial legs, made a comment that he could make man run faster than God had designed which i thought was a very powerful statement from a product-designers point of view. so, if an olympic runner could run 23mph with what God gave him, how much faster would that person run with some man-made carbon-fiber legs? it’s just crazy to think how much we can do with what we know…

2.“Anyways, maybe we should design cars to feel un-safe?”

i totally think so…but not necessarily that cars should feel un-safe, but more that cars should be designed to make us more aware. i know i may be beating a dead horse, but this is why i love this car so much:

not only would it save a great deal of urban real estate for downtown parking but it would also help to significantly decrease congestion. for people that drive alone to work (my hand raised) a car takes up a great deal of space. and all that extra space does it make a little too comfortable for the driver, thus a little less tuned-in to your surroundings. granted, it’s got four wheels but that doesn’t necessarily make it a car. it’s as wide as a motorcycle which would limit the driver from comfortably using a cell phone, putting on make-up, or maybe even drink and drive. i think this car would inherently make the driver more alert. and…uh…it’s just freaky cool.

  1. “You have a 150 lbs. human being transported in a 3000 lbs. machine. Does that sound efficient?”

that’s a great quote! maybe architects aren’t so bad after all. heh!

i love “the onion”

“When we first saw The Matrix back in 1999, the premise of AI evolving into an unstoppable army of self-aware programs intent on dominating the planet gave us pause,” Wunderling said. “But like most moviegoers, we dismissed the movie as a fun blockbuster showcasing cool bullet-time photography and shapely, leather-clad cyber-babes performing gravity-defying kung-fu in slow motion.”

“I saw Revolutions with my 12-year-old son Eric,” Markovitch said. “He saw the look of worry on my face and said, ‘Dad, don’t be scared. It’s only make-believe.’ I had to tell him, ‘No, son, it’s what your father does for a living.’”

was it a mechanical problem…

or AI…


“It had a mind of its own,” Angel Eck said Sunday. “My gas pedal was all the way up, this car was accelerating on its own. I couldn’t get the clutch down. I couldn’t get the brake down.”

does anyone remember when audi was being sued left and right by drivers who claimed their cars had “unintended accleration”?