Not so long ago, the idea that a car could drive itself seemed mildly insane, but thanks to the impetus provided by the DARPA Urban Grand Challenge and ongoing research around the globe, driving might become a hobby rather than a necessity much sooner than you think. One of the pioneers in the field, the Berlin-based AutoNOMOS group unveiled its latest project earlier this year. Known as FU-X “Made in Germany” the tech-laden VW Passat uses GPS, video cameras, on-board laser scanners and radars to navigate autonomously, giving it the potential to be used as a driverless taxi cab. Its latest trick – you can now hail it with an iPad.
AutoNOMOS labs conducts research at the Freie Universität Berlin. Its aim is both to develop an unmanned vehicle navigation system that can co-exist on our roads with conventional cars and to explore potential uses for these systems.
One of the promising applications is for driverless taxis and the iPad demo is an extension of this system which showcases the benefits of the technology. Using the iPad, a “call” is made to the taxi and it immediately knows where you’re at. You can also follow the car’s progress as it makes its way to your location (no more ringing the taxi company to ask where that cab got to!) and use the iPad to tell it where you want to be dropped off.
I’ve been predicting driverless cars for a few years (not that that’s a tricky prediction). Imagine rush hour with all cars run by computers. Ever wonder who’s at the front of a bumper to bumper traffic jam? Computer controlled cars could travel 120 kph almost bumper to bumper because there’s no reaction time involved and the computers are always alert. Without gaps between cars and no one going slow, the motorways could handle 10 times the traffic and go 10 times (or more) as fast as your typical rush hour scenario. That’s 100 times the people moved per hour. Problem solved…. for now. We wouldn’t need traffic lights either, if there’s a gap just jump in. Gaps could even be created by a software request for cars entering the “stream”.
Taxi Dispatch – www.mtdata.us
The next generation in taxi dispatch complete with iPhone app.