When a driverless car glides down the street, avoiding pedestrians and stopping at traffic lights, what exactly does it see? Is the machine’s perspective of the world so different to you and me? To give us an inside look, ScanLAB Projects strapped a laser scanner to a Honda CR-V and cruised through the streets of London. Although the car was being driven by a human, the LIDAR (light detection and ranging) equipment performed similarly to how it would in a driverless car. Like radar or sonar, this involves firing a laser in every direction and then measuring the time it takes to reflect back off nearby objects. These timings are then collected, analyzed and collected again to give the car a real-time picture of its surroundings. ScanLAB Projects is a London design company that uses the technology for art and visualisation purposes; they’ve already scanned museums, an underground railway line and the arctic circle. Its latest video – produced for the New York Times Magazine – combines the LIDAR recordings from the drive for a beautiful, eery look at the city.Read more
I drive a two-seat roadster known for its great handling. The last thing I want is for a machine to take the steering wheel out of my hands. My car company isn’t into self-driving cars, but others are: Ford, BMW, Audi. And, of course, Google is moving quickly forward with road-worthy autocars that have accumulated 300,000 miles with only one (human error) accident. The advantages of cars that drive themselves are multiple and compelling.
Automobile intelligence already assists the driving experience by warning of dangerous situations and taking control of parking, which is, for some people, the most difficult maneuver to perform. We are gradually ceding control to our cars. When a completely automated consumer car launches, some drivers will hand over the reins gladly. But for me and other enthusiasts, driving a car isn’t just about reaching a destination; it’s about the journey and operating a beautiful machine. Unfortunately for people who feel that way, the greatest social benefits of self-driving cars would kick in if everyone were herded into a new era of hands-off driving.Read more