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Published: Thu, 07 Sep 2017 13:28:19 -0800

Last Build Date: Thu, 07 Sep 2017 13:28:19 -0800

 



The long, winding road to fully automated cars

Thu, 07 Sep 2017 13:28:19 -0800

Automobile automation has been promoted as a boon to safety since 1939, though for much of this time, the plan for vehicle guidance relied on in-road guides, with public demonstrations of wire-guided roads continuing into the late 1990s. As recently as 2014, Volvo promoted the value of embedded magnets in roadways to help with autonomous vehicle guidance. Meanwhile, "self-sufficient" autonomous vehicles have been discussed, and designed, for decades, but it wasn't until DARPA offered millions in three successive contests, starting in 2004, that the autonomous vehicle industry really took off. With hundreds of companies now involved in vehicle automation, the U.S. House of Representatives are trying to standardize and streamline rules governing self-driving cars. Wikipedia has a lengthy article on the history of autonomous cars, starting with the first driverless car demonstration on July 27, 1925, when the Houdina Radio Control Company (formed by Francis P. Houdina, no relation to or imitation of Harry Houdini, despite Harry's beliefs) "started its engine, blew its horn and rotated through its various gears." General Motors included a reference to managing cars through radio signals in To New Horizons (YouTube; Archive.org), their 23 minute documentary on their 1939 Worlds Fair Futurama exhibit. But the exhibit designer, Norman Bel Geddes, had another idea. In his book from 1940, Magic Motorways (Archive.org), he has a chapter titled "Eliminate the Human Factor in Driving," and after describing the advances in vehicular safety, he muses: But how about the driver? Has he too improved in these thirty years of motor-car experience as the car has improved? Not by any means. He is still, day in, day out, on three million miles of road, the same, as bad a driver as the fellow who drove a Chalmers in 1910. His eyesight is no better, he reacts no faster, he doesn't think any better, he gets drunk just as easily, he is just as absent-minded. In the next chapter, titled Separated Lanes of Traffic, Geddes offered two technical solutions: Within the field of science there are many potential devices which could be developed to fit exactly the needs of traffic control as they have been defined here. One of these, for instance, the radio beam, is now being used in a limited form for the guiding of the airplane on its course. The field of electromagnetic emanations, which cover a very wide field of electric-wave impulses, is probably the best adapted to the control of traffic.It is conceivable that a control operating directly — as a radio beam, broadcast from stations located along the highway — could provide the control desired. Or perhaps more simply, an electrical conductor imbedded within the road surface, carrying an electric current producing an electro-magnetic field, might provide direct control. Roadway-guided cars were the vision of "autonomous vehicles" from the 1939 World's Fair through the 1950s, even into the 1960s in the US and the UK, where the UK's Transport Research Laboratory put magnetic sensors in a Citroën DS19 to test a driverless car on a still-wired (as of 2001) roadway. The push-button driverless car was a common dream depicted in such midcentury utopian artifacts as 1958′s Disneyland TV episode "Magic Highway, U.S.A.," though it's the last 15 minutes that really get futuristic. The idea of the road telling the car where to go was attractive, but over the years, cars got "smarter." Self-contained autonomous systems began to exist in the form of function-specific automation, first with cruise control (not a new concept, but the modern iteration was invented by Ralph Teetor, who was completely blind), commercially available in 1958 (in addition to the optional Safeguard Sentinel Lighting that could turn on headlights in low-light situations), and then with Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS), available in 1971. With Shakey the (wheeled) Robot (24 min documentary from 1972; Wikipedia), Stanford researchers developed "the world's first electronic person" for ARPA, renamed Defense Advanced Research [...]






Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc.

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 13:34:28 -0800

The members of the Automotive Legacy and Collections Board studied a total of 2234 episodes in the history of Japanese automotive technology...
We are honoured to present the results here:
the 240 Landmarks of Japanese Automotive Technology






Rubber Johnny II: Electric Boogaloo

Fri, 22 Jul 2016 12:05:08 -0800

Meet Graham, an interactive sculpture developed by a trauma surgeon, a crash investigation expert and a Melbourne artist to show what humans might look like, if they had evolved features to withstand car crashes (via)



Look At Me Now, I'm Just Makin' My Play

Thu, 23 Jun 2016 16:08:01 -0800

When filming cars for movies or commercials, coordinating the availability of exotic, high-performance, or new vehicles--along with the location, the filming, and setting up the perfect shot--can be difficult and expensive. For a shoot, you need the car--that is, until now. The next car you see onscreen may actually be The Blackbird.



Short History of the Weirdly Awesome Microcars of Hungary

Sat, 26 Dec 2015 19:23:47 -0800

Hungarian inventions that have shaped the modern world: Laszlo Biro's ballpoint pen, the telephone exchange and holography, and the Magyar microcar, "how Hungary circumvented Stalin and also had a bit of fun." This is just one of a number of weirdly awesome microcars of Hungary from the 1940s and '50s.



◃--◠---▹

Thu, 05 Nov 2015 19:00:36 -0800

The Car, Thunder Charger, Plymouth Barracuda SSXR, Supervan, Batmobile, AMX-400 all rolled out of Barris Kustoms, home of car customiser and fabricator George Barris who passed away today at age 89. Previous discussion on the Barris Batmobile.



What Can I Do To Get You In This Car Today?

Thu, 15 Oct 2015 19:33:57 -0800

I can see you've got discerning taste; perhaps a 1949 or a 1960 Jaguar? How about something in a sporty ragtop, like this 1960 Triumph TR-3, this 1965 Austin-Healey, or something in a 1976 Alfa Romeo? Something for the family? Or maybe something smaller? Or do you need something modern, like this 1981 DeLorean? Hans Tore Tangerud is a car enthusiast. Here's his collection of American, Canadian, and Australian car sales brochures, along with several others from all over the world.



Why drivers in China intentionally kill the pedestrians they hit.

Wed, 09 Sep 2015 15:06:36 -0800

Driven to Kill. The "hit-to-kill" phenomenon in China where a driver who has accidentally struck a pedestrian will stop to run over them again, or multiple times, to ensure they are dead. Trigger warning for text descriptions of gruesome vehicular murder. Lots of links to photos and videos in the article that you should click at your own discretion.



Hackers Remotely Control Jeep Cherokee

Tue, 21 Jul 2015 10:12:26 -0800

Security researchers Charlie Miller (@0xcharlie) and Christopher Valasek (@nudehaberdasher) have found an exploit for Chrysler's Uconnect infotainment system allowing for remote control of many vehicle functions including climate control, audio, braking, and under certain conditions, steering. They plan to release details during a talk at next month's DEFCON 23 hacking conference. Chrysler has already issued a patch for the vulnerability, but it requires a manual update.






That's how you do it.

Mon, 12 Jan 2015 18:06:48 -0800

Master Technician Service Conference Films - Chrysler's Training for Mechanics. These materials were sent to each MoPar (Chrysler Products) dealer's repair department every month from 1948 through at least the late 1970's. They covered a different topic each month, and they were written to educate the simplest of minds. Now they are an invaluable resource for people wanting to maintain their classic Chrysler car. More history of the films and links to other training materials.



Ecto-1 and the Working Cadillac

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:39:22 -0800

Ecto-1 and the Working Cadillac - While a lucrative business for Caddy in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, these professional vehicles weren't all that common. In 1959, just 2102 chassis were made, the lion's share going to the Miller-Meteor company in Ohio. Divided again between ambulance, limousine, dual-purpose and the odd flower car or two, not many more than several hundred Futura Duplexes were made in total. - A history of the Ecto-1, chariot of the gods Ghostbusters.



Vintage Supercars Rotting away in a Forest

Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:45:59 -0800

"Nature is stronger than technology, and that I will show here," said Michael, who has no doubt succeeded in displaying the power of nature that triumphs over even some of the most revered examples of man-made machinery.



In pleasanter anniversary news...

Fri, 12 Sep 2014 06:57:00 -0800

Hey, remember when Oprah gave everyone in her audience a new car (previously)? It was ten years ago tomorrow.



"...To Make Streets Safe, You Must First Make Them Dangerous."

Fri, 05 Sep 2014 08:45:00 -0800

"If you need a sign to tell people to slow down, you designed your street wrong." Going from "Forgiving Highways" to "Self-Explaining Roads": A longitudinal look at the Dutch and American responses to motor vehicle traffic safety. More articles from Gary Toth available here via the Project for Public Spaces.



A chassis in stasis

Sun, 10 Aug 2014 02:42:38 -0800

The closure of the Hindustan Motors factory in Uttarapara, West Bengal, is the end of an era in Indian history. The Ambassador is the perfect example of all that was wrong with Indian policy towards industrialization, manufacturing and business. Protectionism and the license raj created a seller's market where people waited years to buy a car. Until liberalization in the 1990s, the Amby hadn't known any real competition, and there was no pressure to either modernize or improve quality. None of this mattered, at least we had a car. And there wasn't any other quite like it in the world. RIP, motor gadi.



Loooooooooooooo​ooooooooooooo​ooooooooooo​ooooooooooo​ooooooooooo​ooooooooong

Sun, 20 Jul 2014 20:21:41 -0800

Dave's Classic Limousines is dedicated to documenting Limousines prior to the Super-Stretch era and features pictures and descriptions of Custom Coachworks cars and one offs (home built and commercial) plus a page devoted to presidential limos. The site is older than us so please excuse the primitive navigation.



Mine is the beige house. No, the other one. No, the one next to that.

Sat, 05 Jul 2014 11:26:15 -0800

In his new book Ciphers, German photographer Christopher Gielen (previously) reveals haunting images of our endlessly repetitive development through aerial views of American urban sprawl. The photographic aerial studies reveal the hidden geometries of sprawl growth that become apparent only when seen from far above the ground. These top-view abstractions show striking parallels between layouts and shapes of otherwise unrelated developments – structures as varied in function as prisons and retirement communities. But all of them clearly demonstrate sprawl as a car dependent phenomenon and as a way of life. These pictures are intended to invoke an era of carefree risk-taking, of "bigger is better," when investing in home ownership and commercial real estate were still standard practices and neither distance from workplace or city centers nor gasoline prices much mattered in determining the geographic locations of new constructions. The goal of this work is to connect art with environmental politics and to trigger a discussion about contemporary building trends by looking closely at the ramifications of sprawl – to ask: what is sustainable planning? – particularly at this point in time, when a growing need for new housing is prevalent across the globe. To further explore these topics, Ciphers was paired with essays by futurist Geoff Manaugh, cultural philosopher Johan Frederik Hartle, urban redevelopment expert Galina Tachieva, architect Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, as well as environmentalists Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris of The Canary Project.



The horrrific 2014 GM rolling sarcophagus deathtraps are here!

Mon, 19 May 2014 07:41:03 -0800

What do the words "safety," ''chaotic" and "problem" have in common? They're all on General Motors' list of banned words for employees who were documenting potential safety issues. The revelation of the 68-word list is one of the odder twists in GM's ongoing recall of 2.6 million older-model small cars for defective ignition switches. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver weighs in.



"this collision ... won't be an isolated incident"

Mon, 10 Mar 2014 18:13:04 -0800

Broken Stride
There's an ongoing culture war in America between fitness enthusiasts and automobiles — a quiet, persistent, and almost entirely one-sided battle that creates new casualties every day. The legal skirmish surrounding the death of Ashley Poissant reveals this stark divide. The Clinton County District Attorney and Poissant's friends insist that when an 85-year-old man with an unsafe level of alcohol in his blood and a steering wheel in his hand collides with and kills a 27-year-old woman, it is a crime, a form of homicide. Trombly's attorney says it's a horrible accident, one that the women contributed to by running at dusk on the wrong side of the road. He believes an accident, even a fatal one, doesn't warrant sending an octogenarian to a New York state penitentiary.



Only coincidentally posted on International Women's Day

Sat, 08 Mar 2014 11:14:59 -0800

It turns out that fish may need bicycles after all. Or, more accurately, fish need more bicyclists, and fewer motorists. "Water pollution attributable to automobiles includes oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, [copper], etc." (via rootsimple.com) See also



The Unimog

Wed, 18 Dec 2013 09:36:13 -0800

"With the exception of a tank, this is the most capable production vehicle on the planet."
It was in the autumn of 1945 that the first drawings for an agricultural vehicle were produced by Albert Friedrich, the former head of aircraft engine design at Daimler-Benz. [...] The Unimog S started its career two years later.
The UNIMOG (short for UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät) is Mercedes-Benz's go-anywhere, do-anything truck. Produced in various forms since 1948, it was originally designed as an agricultural vehicle, a replacement for the tractor—hence its track width of 1270 millimeters, or two rows of potatoes. The result was a vehicle of uncommon utility. The Unimog 404 series, widely considered to be the exemplar of the line, was produced for a variety of civilian and military markets from 1955-1980, and included all the Unimog standards: power take-offs for providing power to winches, pumps, and all manner of farm tools, portal axles for high ground clearance, coil-spring suspension, and a drivetrain designed with huge amounts of axial articulation. (The US military wouldn't get a vehicle with a portal axel until the adoption of the HMMWV.) The ultra-low gearbox also makes possible some interesting parking strategies. What're they like to drive? The fine folks over at Rocky Mountain Moggers have compiled a FAQ, along with extensive photo-documentation of their many club excursions. The Unimog even makes a capable racing truck, so long as you're racing in the T4 class of the Dakar Rally.