My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How EU Project SARTRE adds Volvo self-driving AI in Live Traffic in Spain

Friday, June 1, 2012

How EU Project SARTRE adds Volvo self-driving AI in Live Traffic in Spain

Despite all the dire predictions about AI (Artificial Intelligence) taking over humanity and enslaving as violently echoed in movies such as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) and The Matrix (1999), the idea of a self-driving, Autonomous Motor Vehicle appears to resonate with many people.

This as Volvo has become the first company in the world to test self-driving Vehicles in LIVE TRAFFIC as reported in the article “Self-driving cars take to the roads”, published Wednesday, May 30, 2012, The Jamaica Observer and “Google's self-driving car faces competition from Europe” published May 29, 2012, 9:15 p.m. By Deborah Netburn, LA Times.!!!

The company even has one of its Vehicles the Volvo S60 rated as one of the five safety-conscious automakers in the World as stated in the article “The Five Safest Automobiles”, published Feb. 3, 2010 By RICH BLAKE, ABC News is making cars even safer with self-driving Vehicles or Autonomous Motor Vehicle as I like to call this technology.  Most likely the basis of this latest development, an indication of their pedigree and years of automobile expertise!!

Jamaican vehicle could use that type of tech here made standard in all vehicles, as we seem to be having an epidemic of vehicles accidents and an unwillingness to implement CCTV Cameras to automatically ticket drivers, debiting the ticket directly from, their Bank Accounts to counteract pedestrian deaths as suggested in as per my blog article entitled “Handheld Traffic Ticketing Units for Jamaican Police a success but no Automated Traffic Ticketing System - GOJ fears the All Seeing Eyes of CCTV”.

Volvo even has a Vision 2020 Statement with regards to safety as stated on their website “Vision 2020”, viewed June 1 2012 by Lindsworth Deer, VolvoCars quote: “By 2020, nobody shall be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo”.

That right folks!

Live traffic, as in, one (1) self-driving truck and three (3) self-driving cars on the Spanish Highway that can drive themselves intermingling on the road with other unruly drivers for approximately 124 miles!

This is all part of a collective research Project called SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) which is funded by the usual suspects on the Continent:

1.      EU (European Union)
2.      British engineering and technology developer Ricardo UK
3.      Volvo
4.      Idiada
5.      Tecnalia Research & Innovation of Spain,
6.      Institut fur Kraftfahrzeuge Aachen of Germany
7.      SPTechnical Research Institute of Sweden

Interestingly, Project SARTRE is an acronym jumble that when re-arranged spells “START E”, possibly a play on the fact that the Vehicles are all Autonomous Motor Vehicles i.e. AI. Of course, I may be incorrect, but it’s nice to think that the projects name has a hidden meaning that evokes the true purpose of the Project: eliminating the human element in driving!!

Despite the surprise this must be creating among motorists in Spain, Volvo Car Corporation's project manager, Linda Wahlstrom says the tech was long in coming, quote:  “We've learnt a whole lot during this period. People think that autonomous driving is science fiction, but the fact is that the technology is already here. From the purely conceptual viewpoint, it works fine and the road train will be around in one form or another in the future.”

Volvo’s test Vehicles are bristling with cameras to identify Vehicles, radar to detect range to impact between itself and other Vehicles, laser sensors to determine precise clearance from the top of the Vehicle as well as “listen” for sounds, a very powerful on-board Computer to process all that sensory information and a really good AI Program.

The Vehicles follow a lead Vehicle that is of course driven by a human and all the test Vehicles have a human passenger who tan cake control of the Vehicle at any time without resistance, lest the AI decided to learn Road Rage and take it out on the human drivers. At this rate, by 2015AD, this technology will be standard in all Volvo’s and licensed to other Vehicles in the EU (European Union).

Autonomous Motor Vehicles are a furtherance of Volvo’s Vision 2020 dream, to quote Volvo: “The project aims to deliver improved comfort for drivers, who can now spend their time doing other things while driving. They can work on their laptops, read a book or sit back and enjoy a relaxed lunch. Naturally the project also aims to improve traffic safety, reduce environmental impact and, thanks to smooth speed control, cut the risk of traffic tailbacks.”

Volvo, already renowned for its safety designed into standard Vehicles including Pedestrian Airbags as stated in the article “Tech Talk: Volvo designs pedestrian airbag”, published 2012/06/01 10:34:00, The Toronto Star, has effectively begun executing a Global world first that is a trend that is sure to boost the sales of All-Electric Vehicles. 

Support for this noble venture is obvious as a self-driving Vehicle would solve so many problems associated with driving including:

1.      Reduction of Vehicle accidents
2.      Reduction of Pedestrian Fatalities
3.      Improving Driving on the roads by reducing the incidence of ticket-able Traffic Offences
4.      Enabling physically impaired people to drive i.e. Deaf and Blind
5.      Enabling more people with the ability to drive as this would lower the learning curve
6.      Improved fuel economy of Gasoline and Diesel Vehicles by 20%
7.      Aid the rapid adoption of Hybrid, Auto-LPG, All-Electric and Range Extender Technology Vehicles as stated in the article “The Electric Car might Be the Perfect Second Ride”, published August 3, 2010, 4:35PM EST By Ed Wallace, WALLACE'S WORLD, BusinessWeek
8.      Reducing the dependence on Fossil Fuels for Motor Vehicles

Interestingly Google had begun testing the concept in California since October of 2010AD as stated in the article “Robot cars invade California, on orders from Google”, published October 9, 2010 5:42 PM PDT by Edward Moyer, CNET News - Cutting Edge.  In my blog article entitled “Google and AI - I Robot” as well as my blog article entitled “Google and AI - The matrix and Terminator Rise of the Machines” I spoke of Google’s attempts at self-driving Vehicles, which was on par with development back then in AI.

Then in March 2012AD Google applied for permission from the state of Nevada to test these Autonomous Motor Vehicles on Nevada’s streets.

This license has now been approved as reported in the article “Google's Self-Driving Car Licensed to Hit Nevada Streets”, published May 8, 2012 6:16 AM By Ian Paul, PCWorld and “Google Self-Driving Car License Approved in Nevada”, published May 8, 2012 9:58am by Joanna Stern, ABC News. A first in the world at that time as stated by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, quote:  “It is the first license issued in the United States under new laws and regulations that put Nevada at the forefront of autonomous Vehicle development” .

To be honest, this announcement, albeit historic, failed to excite me enough to do a blog article, knowing Google’s penchant for doing things for experimental purposes only as stated in the article “Google looks to unleash robotic cars in Nevada”, published May 12, 2011 12:30 PM PDT by John Scott Lewinski, CNET News.

Worse, the fact that they are not a Car Company! Worse, it wouldn’t necessarily be live traffic, as the self-driving Toyota Priuses will be driving up and down the Las Vegas Strip, mostly empty roadway. Even GM (General Motors) estimates it won’t be until 2020AD before such Vehicles technology is standard in all Vehicles! Google has no plans to bring this tech, still in its experimental prototype state, to the market.

It would now appear that Google has been beaten by the experts in the SATRE Project, most likely fearing a monopoly of Google Android-powered Autonomous Motor Vehicles as stated in the article “Google's self-driving car faces competition from Europe” published May 29, 2012, 9:15 p.m. By Deborah Netburn, LA Times.

Not only that, the technology may be coming in the next three (3) years!

I personally like the idea back then, only because I could identify with the idea of being tired and wanting to be driven home, a concept seen in such movies as The 6th Day (2000) and Time Cop (1997).

I like the idea even better now, knowing that a Volvo, already a pioneer and expert in Vehicle safety and not a company trying to control my Vehicle with Android in order to serve up more mobile advertising is behind the research. In hindsight, Volvo would do well to team up with Google to more closely integrate their tech with a suitable Android smartphone maker e.g. Samsung and make the Vehicle remote-controllable as well.

That would really make the 20- and 30-something crowd opt for a Hybrid, Auto-LPG, All-Electric and Range Extender Technology Vehicles as their first Vehicle, not just necessarily Volvo-made Vehicles but any Vehicle that may license or develop such technology in the future.

More interestingly for us here in Jamaica, ATL Automotive, which is to begin importing low-sulphur Diesel luxury Vehicles into Jamaica just in time for London Olympics 2012AD as per my blog article entitled “ATL Automotive to benefit from Low-Sulphur Diesel in 12 Months Time - Bio-Fuels Resident Evil Apocalypse” may be the importer for Volvo S60 and thus any Vehicles from Volvo that may have this technology standard.

Combined with the boom in smartphones now sweeping the Mobile Landscape as stated in my blog article entitled “Blackberry popularity wanes as Jamaicans go smartphones - Android and Apple's Smartphone Revolution” , it would boost the sales of any All-Electric Vehicles coming to Jamaica via ATL Automotive.

The All-Electric Vehicles to be manufactured by Oregon-based Porteon in Jamaica from parts made at their factory in St. Lucia shipped here to be constructed as stated my blog article entitled “Porteon to manufacture All-Electric Vehicles in St. Lucia - Strengthening CARICOM ties with Jamaican Skilled Labour”.

The continued development of Autonomous Motor Vehicle by both US Google and EU Project SARTRE is something to follow, as it heralds the Rise of the Machines and the coming of the Internet of Things. It is also a boost to both the smartphone industry as well as the All-electric Vehicle Industry via a future partnership with Google or any smartphone maker using Google Android.

Truly, these projects are a “START E” as it fires up the imagination of future Car purchasers of Cars that can drive you home and you can possibly control via your Mobile smartphone.

But where’s Apple in all of this? Stay tuned, folks as this story develops!!


Sydney Volvo said...
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