This week - Self-driving crash protection, AI traffic lights, a tech Brexit?, FCA join alliance and Tesla trucks!

Home / News | posted on 18 08 2017 News Roundup looks at a project to use a self-driving capability for a crash protection vehicle to minimise the risk exposure for operators at road works, the use of artificial intelligence for traffic lights, a possible technology solution for the Brexit freight issue, Fiat Chrysler join an alliance to develop their autonomous driving capability and Tesla who are developing self-driving electric trucks.

Significant boost for AV's

Self-driving Crash Protection Vehicle

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) have used an autonomous crash protection vehicle for the first time on a real work site. "Just in the last four years, there have been 26 incidents where a member of the traveling public struck a CDOT impact protection vehicle, that's almost seven per year" said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT Executive Director, "this is a dangerously high number when you consider that in some instances, a CDOT employee is sitting in the driver's seat of the vehicle that was hit. By using self-driving technology, we're able to take the driver out of harm's way while still effectively shielding roadside workers". According to the Federal Highway Administration, in work zones in 2015, there was a crash every 5.4 minutes, 70 crash-related injuries every day, and 12 crash-related fatalities every week. The Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV) is designed to reduce these numbers by using technology to mimic the position, speed and direction of a lead vehicle that transmits a signal to the trailing driverless vehicle, ensuring the AIPV is always correctly positioned between roadway workers and live traffic. Partners in the project include Colas UK, Lee Rushbrooke, CEO of Colas, said "We are dedicated to advancing health and safety issues and will continue to invest in cutting-edge research and development projects to benefit our employees, clients and the wider industry. We are extremely excited about this new technology and are looking forward to giving this a global reach to save lives of road workers, across the world".

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Another box on wheels?

Artificial Intelligence for Traffic Signals

A new Artificial Intelligence (AI) system created by Professor Lee McCluskey and his team at the University of Huddersfield has been awarded more than £850,000 by the Government-backed Innovate UK. AI systems offer the opportunity to carry out data analysis and to devise complex strategies in a fraction of the time required by human operators, the traffic management system named 'SimplifAI', will take steps such as optimising timings at traffic signals in order to achieve the best possible flow, especially after unusual or unforeseen events have created congestion. Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) are a member of the consortium behind the project, and will supply sites for the system to be tested on. It will be interesting to see how SimplifAI copes in comparison with other Urban Traffic Control (UTC) systems, such as SCOOT (which is used extensively across the UK for coordinating and controlling traffic signals in urban areas), and the CASTs (Commands Actioned and Stored Together) which are routinely used automatically, to cope with incidents or irregular activities.

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Musk Concern About Fleet Wide Hack

Can tech solve the Brexit border puzzle?

In an interesting thought piece by Rory Cellan-Jones for the BBC, the two competing visions for how goods will flow in and out of the UK after Brexit are discussed. These comprise of either manually checking everything or will using technology provide a frictionless solution? Currently, because the UK is part of the EU, no customs checks are required, however, after Brexit, it seems likely that there will far more bureaucracy to contend with. The affect this may have on freight traffic in particular could lead to long queues of trucks waiting to leave the country unless a technological solution can be agreed on.

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Worksite Wili

Fiat Chrysler Joins Self-Driving Car Alliance

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) have joined a partnership between BMW, Intel, Delphi and Continental to develop systems for autonomous cars. FCA had previously been developing self-driving cars in their own right, but hope that the group will reduce costs and accelerate development. "To advance autonomous driving technology, it is vital to form partnerships among automakers, technology providers and suppliers" said Sergio Marchionne, FCA chief executive. The coalition said that the target of deploying 40 autonomous vehicles for real-world driving testing by the end of the year remains on track, it aims to have fully automated systems in production by 2021, using a 'scalable' design that can be used by different car manufacturers.

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EU says LEDs are safe

Tesla Self-Driving Electric Trucks

It has been revealed that Tesla are working on the development of electric 'platooning' trucks that will have the capability to follow a lead vehicle. The prototype truck is apparently close to being road tested, with Nevada and California officials in talks to permit on-road trials. While Musk has previously stated aims to build an electric truck, Tesla has yet to announce any autonomous driving aims for the vehicles, which are seen as the next evolution of greener and safer road freight. Tesla has been a leader in developing self-driving technology for its luxury cars, including the lower-priced Model 3, which it is beginning to manufacture.

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