Japanese government begins plans for driverless driving by 2020

Japan’s Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will soon embark on a project to realize an “autopilot system” for automatic driving, a system for guiding motor vehicles on expressways without human assistance.

The system is expected to contribute significantly to such goals as alleviating drivers’ fatigue, preventing road accidents and easing traffic congestion. It would be for vehicles referred to as self-driving cars capable of sensing their environment and navigating by themselves, with people not required to perform any mechanical operation besides choosing their destinations.

With a view to making an autopilot system a reality in the early 2020s, the ministry will launch a study panel of experts this year, to start full-scale discussions about a self-steering vehicle control project.

The ministry envisages an autonomous vehicle system in which, after leaving your home, motorists would enter an interchange of a nearby expressway while manually operating their cars.

When pulling into the expressway’s lane exclusively for the autopilot system, the driving mode would change to “automatic driving” and input your destination into the system. Motorists would take their hands and feet off the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake.

 

Via‘Driverless driving’ envisioned for Japan in early 2020s

 

Continue reading Japanese government begins plans for driverless driving by 2020

An explanation for the multi-million dollar books on Amazon – algorithmic pricing

At first I thought it was a joke – a graduate student with too much time on their hands. But there were TWO new copies for sale, each offered for well over a million dollars. And the two sellers seemed not only legit, but fairly big time (over 8,000 and 125,000 ratings in the last year respectively). The prices looked random – suggesting they were set by a computer. But how did they get so out of whack?

Amazingly, when I reloaded the page the next day, both priced had gone UP! Each was now nearly $2.8 million. And whereas previously the prices were $400,000 apart, they were now within $5,000 of each other. Now I was intrigued, and I started to follow the page incessantly. By the end of the day the higher priced copy had gone up again. This time to $3,536,675.57. I continued to watch carefully and the full pattern emerged.

 

 

Once a day profnath set their price to be 0.9983 times bordeebook’s price. The prices would remain close for several hours, until bordeebook “noticed” profnath’s change and elevated their price to 1.270589 times profnath’s higher price. The pattern continued perfectly for the next week.

But two questions remained. Why were they doing this, and how long would it go on before they noticed? As I amusedly watched the price rise every day, I learned that Amazon retailers are increasingly using algorithmic pricing (something Amazon itself does on a large scale), with a number of companies offering pricing algorithms/services to retailers. Both profnath and bordeebook were clearly using automatic pricing – employing algorithms that didn’t have a built-in sanity check on the prices they produced.

via Michael Eisen

Email in any language – auto-translate now available in Gmail

Did you ever dream about a future where your communications device could transcend language with ease?

Well, that day is a lot closer. Over the next few days, everyone who uses Gmail will be getting the convenience of translation added to their email. The next time you receive a message in a language other than your own, just click on ‘Translate message’ in the header at the top of the message:

 

 

and it will be instantly translated into your language:

 

 

Back when we launched automatic message translation in Gmail Labs, we were curious to see how people would use it.

We heard immediately from Google Apps for Business users that this was a killer feature for working with local teams across the world. Some people just wanted to easily read newsletters from abroad. Another person wrote in telling us how he set up his mom’s Gmail to translate everything into her native language, thus saving countless explanatory phone calls (he thanked us profusely).

Since message translation was one of the most popular labs, we decided it was time to graduate from Gmail Labs and move into the real world.

via – The Official Gmail Blog

 

// Thx – Mihai Ionescu, Photo – Eyesplash

Cadillac releases sophisticated array of semi-autonomous sensors for self-driving cars

Google isn’t the only company working on a self-driving car. Cadillac today announced that it is actively road testing a semi-autonomous system called Super Cruise that can control a vehicle’s steering, braking and lane-centering capabilities. Super Cruise, according to Cadillac, is designed to help make freeway driving easier on the driver when either stuck in traffic or during long hauls down the interstate.

The system works by combining on-board radar, ultrasonic sensors, cameras and GPS data to give your car the ability to read lane markings and detect curves in the roadway.

via Laptop Magazine

 

For certain luxury cars, we are already half-way (or more) there. From the Cadillac news release:

Many of the building block technologies for Super Cruise are already available on the all-new 2013 Cadillac XTS and ATS luxury sedans, as part of the available Driver Assist Package:

  • Rear Automatic Braking
  • Full-Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Intelligent Brake Assist
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Safety Alert Seat
  • Automatic Collision Preparation
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Side Blind Zone Alert
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Adaptive Forward Lighting
  • Rear Vision Camera With Dynamic Guidelines
  • Head Up Display

The key to delivering semi-autonomous capability will be the integration of lane-centering technology that relies on forward-looking cameras to detect lane markings and GPS map data to detect curves and other road characteristics, said John Capp, General Motors director of Global Active Safety Electronics and Innovation.

 

 

Pretty crazy to think about all the technology needed to self drive a car. That’s 12 sensors/alerts/displays with more needed to fully automate the simplest of driving tasks. Makes our brains seem pretty sophisticated.