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Elon Musk: We Are One Year Away From Fully Autonomous, Self-Driving Cars

Elon Musk says we are essentially within a year of fully autonomous cars being a reality.

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(TMU) – Would you entrust your life to a car’s algorithmic intelligence? Would you curl up in the backseat and take a nap while your vehicle navigates hectic freeway traffic or busy intersections? Would you let your car be the designated driver while you have a night out on the town?

According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, we are essentially within a year of such technology existing, though he adds the caveat that it will likely take longer before the system is fully deployed and adopted.

Earlier this month, Musk announced the advance at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai. He has since elaborated during several podcast interviews.

To Cathie Wood and Tasha Keeney of ARK Invest in a podcast, he stated

“I think we will be feature complete — full self-driving — this year. Meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up and take you all the way to your destination without an intervention, this year.”

Musk added that you can expect to be able to take a nap behind the wheel if you want.

“My guess as to when we would think it is safe for somebody to essentially fall asleep and wake up at their destination? Probably towards the end of next year.”

Such technology would be a first-of-its-kind level 5 autonomous vehicle in which the car capable of handling all driver functions without human assistance or supervision.

Musk acknowledges that it is a difficult task. Currently, Tesla offers an Enhanced Autopilot feature that “guides a car from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including suggesting and making lane changes, navigating highway interchanges, and taking exits.”

“On a development level, [there is] no problem recognizing stop signs and traffic lights,” Musk has said. “But you do get ambiguity in some complex intersections with traffic lights. Like, which one’s the right light to focus on? Even if you’re a person, it’s not always clear. So that’s what we’re working on there.”

Technology experts and economists, citing multiple studies, suggest self-driving cars, or automated vehicles (AVs), will have massive beneficial effects on cities and human society.

AVs will free up an additional 50 minutes a day for human users, accumulating to an extra billion hours of productivity around the world. Perhaps even more importantly, AVs will dramatically reduce car accident fatalities (by up to 90% of the annual 1.2 million worldwide deaths), which will also save $190 billion in the U.S. alone.

AVs will also transform cities, leading to an 80% reduction in the overall number of vehicles, which will drastically reduce traffic congestion, free up new land, and lead to an overall reduction of pollution.

Tesla is currently in an AV race with other companies developing self-driving cars, including Waymo, Uber, Lyft, and traditional automakers. In 2018, Alphabet’s Waymo launched its robo-taxi service, though it was not fully autonomous.

AVs are expected to simultaneously usher in a new gold rush of consumer robotics and machine learning, including remote advanced sensing, hyperprecise positioning/GPS, image recognition, and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) development.

 

 

 

 

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Awesome New Infrared Goggles Could Help Blind People ‘See’ Surroundings

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People who are blind or deal with low vision face a unique number of challenges in their daily lives, ranging from accessing published material to holding a job or living on one’s own.

However, emerging infrared technology under research could help the blind and visually impaired navigate the world around them using a pair of innovative goggles.

In new research recently published and yet to be peer-reviewed, Manuel Zahn and Armaghan Ahmad Khan at Germany’s Technical University of Munich explored how their 3D camera and haptic feedback armband can assist people with low vision.

“Even in the present era, visually impaired people face a constant challenge of navigation,” the pair wrote. “The most common tool available to them is the cane. Although the cane allows good detection of objects in the user’s immediate vicinity, it lacks the ability to detect obstacles further away.”

The two students’ design deploys two infrared cameras placed in a 3D-printed goggles prototype to get a stereoscopic view that is transformed by a small computer into a map of the user’s surroundings. The infrared gear also works in the dark. The armband then uses 25 actuators arranged in a grid that vibrates when users come close to objects while also assisting them in their orientation. As users walk near obstacles, the vibration intensity of the actuators increases.

In tests, subjects enjoyed roughly 98 percent accuracy while getting through obstacle pathways, with all five participants completing the course in their first run. After two additional runs, the volunteers were able to navigate the obstacles more rapidly.

Zahn and Khan frequently cited Microsoft’s Kinect motion detection system for the Xbox in their study, but the pair are confident that their own setup will be far smaller, cheaper and less conspicuous than the gaming device.

The new headset could offer an interesting opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to clear the myriad obstacles they face when performing regular tasks or navigating the world around them.

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Toddler Goes On $2000 Furniture-Shopping Spree On Mom’s Phone

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A New Jersey mom learned that keeping your browser open may not be the best idea as children, and even infants, become increasingly tech savvy.

Madhu Kumar was browsing Walmart’s furniture selection on their website and had added some items to her shopping cart but never checked out. She was shocked and confused when she started to receive a steady stream of packages from the big-box retailer.

Madhu immediately turned to her husband and two older children to find out who ordered the packages.

“I need one or two, why would we need four?” Madhu asked.

As it turned out, her toddler Ayaansh Kumar – who, at 22 months old, was barely learning to count – had gone on a $2,000 shopping spree while playing on his mother’s phone.

“It is really hard to believe that he has done this, but that’s what happened,” Ayaansh’s dad, Pramod Kumar, told NBC New York.

Among the packages were some that could barely be squeezed through the family’s front door at their home in Monmouth Junction.

Purchases included accent chairs, flower stands and a range of other household items that arrived throughout the week.

“He’s so little, he’s so cute, we were laughing that he ordered all this stuff,” his mom remarked.

From birth, young Ayaansh had observantly watched his family members engage in a range of activities from home – including shopping, attending classes, and going to school. And as it the case for many kids of his generation, he knows the basics of operating a smartphone.

The parents are still waiting for all of the boxes to arrive so that they can return them to their local Walmart. The retailer has already told the Kumars that they are eligible for a refund, but the parents plan to save at least a few items to remind them of their son’s first e-commerce adventure.

“Moving forward, we will put tough passcodes or face recognition so when he picks up the phone he finds it in locked condition,” his father said.

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