The roundup – week 51

A summary of four online articles that I have found interesting in the past week.

The ‘ghost car’ concept

This week, the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s E&T magazine featured an article showcasing two impressive in-car technologies currently being developed by Jaguar Land Rover.

Firstly, the ‘ghost car’ concept demonstrates a dramatically new take on traditional satellite navigation. The image of a vehicle is projected in front of the driver’s car, which can then be followed to the desired destination. Aside from allowing the driver to maintain greater focus on the road ahead, the system also improves safety by issuing alerts of upcoming hazards.

Following with the same theme, the second innovation involves projecting the real-time image feed from an externally mounted camera onto the vehicle’s internal pillars. This gives the driver a full 360 degree field of view without blind spots.

Both concepts are demonstrated in the following video.

Connecting cars and cyclists

A similar article also appearing in this week’s E&T magazine focuses on a collaboration between car maker Volvo, sports gear manufacturer POC, and communications giant Ericsson.

The consortium have developed a radically new prototype cycle helmet that is connected to a Volvo car’s cloud system. An application running on the cyclist’s mobile phone shares location data with the cloud service and alerts both the cyclist and driver if there is a possibility of collision.

I came up with a similar idea to this when a school child wearing headphones almost stepped off the pavement in front of my car one morning. I had wondered if some kind of personal radar system could have alerted the music lover to their immanent danger via their headphones.

The concept based on Volvo’s cloud system is shown in the following video.

What Nokia did next

Personally I believe that the news rumblings surrounding self-driving cars indicate that this technology will be with us sooner rather than later, even if some work colleagues would disagree with me. One such news article appeared in the IEEE Spectrum magazine this week, which offers an insight into what the Finnish ex-mobile phone manufacturer Nokia are currently working on.

It transpires that Nokia, along with Google, are in a race to map the world in preparation for the navigational needs of self-driving cars. In the past year alone, Nokia has mapped 1.2 million miles of road across 30 countries.

These maps are actually 3D models of the routes travelled, making use of a lidar system consisting of 32 laser beams to capture detail up to 15 stories above the street. The resolution at street level is just a few centimeters.

Self-parking BMW

During a conversation about the cost of car insurance at work this week, I raised the question of how insurance firms will operate when we are all being chauffeured around in self-driving cars.

While some colleagues were of the opinion that this level of automobile automation is practically science fiction at present, an article that appeared in the IEEE Spectrum magazine the next day seems to suggest quite the opposite.

BMW are in fact ready to publicly demonstrate their self-parking car in the coming weeks. This technology will allow the driver to exit the vehicle and go about their errands, while the car locates a suitable space and parks on its own.

Therefore the question of who is responsible should the autonomous vehicle be involved in an accident would appear to be highly relevant.