Boston-based self-driving startup Optimus Ride said on Thursday that it will provide rides in its golf cart-sized vehicles to tenants of a $1.4 billion mixed-use development project in Reston, Virginia, starting later this year. It will be a very modest deployment of the technology — three vehicles on a fixed loop to and from the parking facility — but it underscores the need for self-driving car operators to rein in their ambitions before going public.
Road crashes claim nearly 40,000 lives annually in the United States. The result is considerable financial and emotional suffering to society. Highly automated vehicles (HAVs) — vehicles that drive themselves some or all of the time – should help. By shifting responsibility for driving from humans to machines, this technology minimizes opportunities for behavioral errors blamed in most road crashes.
The other evening as I worked in a coffee shop on a busy intersection at rush hour in Washington, DC, I was struck by the sheer magnitude of the number of drivers passing by that were looking down at their phones. Over the hour I watched, at least half of the drivers who were stopped at the red light looked down at their phone screens at least once, hurriedly scrolling and typing away, entirely oblivious to the fact that the light had turned green until they received a helpful honk from the car behind. When the light was green at least a quarter of those passing through were glancing down at their phones or fixated on some knob or dial on their console, glancing up only sporadically to see if the car ahead was braking. While driverless cars may eventually free us to spend our commutes entirely on our phones, in the meantime, could AI-powered traffic cameras finally rid of the dangers of distracted drivers?
Uber is working on autonomous software that would allow dockless scooters and bikes to drive themselves to riders and charging stations, TechCrunch reports, citing commentsfrom 3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson. Anderson said the announcement about the new Micromobility Robotics team was made at a DIY Robocars event this weekend.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Uber has already begun hiring for the research team, which would work under Jump, the micromobility firm that Uber acquired last year.
In a Google Form seeking information from people interested in career opportunities, Uber’s autonomous technology team said it was “exploring ways to improve safety, rider experience, and operational efficiency of our shared electric scooters and bicycles through the application of sensing and robotics technologies.”