For Driverless Cars to Succeed Wireless Infrastructure is Crucial

For the world envisioned in Minority Report with its driverless cars and big brother surveillance systems to become a reality (for better or worse?) much improved infrastructure is needed – two recent articles give indication of the drive to achieve this- at least in American Cities and definitely for the commercial benefit of the automakers and cyber companies shareholders – so I again have my doubts about the real benefit of continued reliance on private vehicles

Driverless cars from movie Minority Report

The first article is from Urban TImes giving insight into the need and possibility of alternative technologies to wireless in order for the machines to communicate with each other

At CES 2013 driverless cars were big news. And while the likes of Toyota and Google are working on the technology inside the cars to make these a reality – William Webb, IEEE fellow and CTO of Neul knows that the wireless infrastructure needs to be up to scratch too.

IEEE experts have recently identified driverless cars as the most viable form of intelligent transport, set to dominate the roadway by 2040 and spark dramatic changes in vehicular travel.

Related: Google’s Driverless Cars Now Legal in Nevada

As far as I can tell, there is one key barrier to the widespread adoption of intelligent transport (aside from driver and passenger acceptance of automated vehicles) and that is the infrastructure of our roads and vehicles. More specifically, the wireless infrastructure.

Monitoring traffic flow is relatively easy, as is deducing where congestion is occurring and working out where to reroute cars. However, there is still a big piece missing from the intelligent transport puzzle – a way to get information from sensors to controls centres, and from there back to cars, traffic lights, and roadside signage. Wireless connectivity is the only option when facing this challenge. Whilst this might seem obvious in the case of moving vehicles, the cost of installing the wires for sensors in stationary items such as bridges of car-parking spaces is completely prohibitive – making wireless a big issue.

Self-driving car Toyota Prius prototype. Via Google

The second article is  note from Smart Planet a few days ago highlights the amount of effort being put into these machine communication systems – again – one has no doubts about whose interests this is in – only a  nagging suspicion that this all looks very familiar in terms of science fiction – anyone see a likeness to the Matrix here – machines in control – humans in servitude?

Google’s secretive wireless network could impact urban connectivity, Wi-Fi

By  | January 25, 2013, 2:19 AM PST

Google’s secretive wireless networking project could have severe repercussions on the consumer market it seems.

Filing an application to build an “experimental” wireless network on the tech giant’s Mountain View headquarters, Google is petitioning the FCC to allow 50 base stations to be built on the campus, in order to support 200 user devices for an “experimental radio service.”

The application and proposal state that the area covered will be close to the firm’s Android building, but small, indoor base stations will only reach up to 200 meters, and outdoor systems will go no further than a kilometer. In total, the network will have a two-mile radius.

The experimental network remains under wraps for now, but who knows what Google is planning for the future. As the Wall Street Journal notes, the FCC request may be in relation to the tech giant’s partnership with Dish Networks.

The filing, uncovered by Wireless engineer Steve Crowley, would provide coverage for 2524 to 2625 megahertz frequencies — which wouldn’t be compatible with most of the consumer mobile devices currently available, such as Apple’s iPhone or smartphones running Google’s Android operating system. It would, however, work well in densely populated areas.

Nevada issues Google first license for self-driving car

The future’s, here – its just not evenly distributed yet – to paraphrase William Gibson- the end of traffic jams and the start of Minority Reports automated freeways – and all the visions of a distopian future a la Blade Runner around the corner are banished by your ever ready and willing Google – now they not only know where you are all the time – they’re taking you there! See my other post of today for more of the same story: A warning for mankind: Beware the new Big Brother


AP PHOTO/SANDRA CHEREB
Gov. Brian Sandoval takes a spin in a driverless car Wednesday, July 20, 2011, in Carson City. Sandoval described the experience as “amazing”; he took the test run with a Google engineer and DMV Director Bruce Breslow. They started their trip at the DMV offices in Carson City and went north to Washoe Valley, where they turned around.

COURTESY OF GOOGLE
Google’s Toyota Prius Autonomous Vehicle

CARSON CITY — Nevadans will soon see driverless cars being tested on streets and highways.

Google received the first license Monday from the state Department of Motor Vehicles to test the autonomous vehicles. It is believed to be the first such license issued in the country.

The 2011 Legislature passed the first law in the nation to permit testing of driverless cars. But state regulations require a person behind the wheel and one in the passenger’s seat during tests.

“It’s still a work in progress,” said Tom Jacobs, a DMV spokesman. “The system regulates the brakes, accelerator and steering.”

Google has equipped a test fleet of at least eight vehicles — six Toyota Priuses, an Audi TT and a Lexus RX450h.

License plates issued for driverless cars will have a red background and feature an infinity symbol on the left side.

“I feel using the infinity symbol was the best way to represent the ‘car of the future,’” DMV Director Bruce Breslow said.

DMV officials have been in the vehicles during demonstrations on the Las Vegas Strip and in Carson City. There have been other demonstrations of the technology on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and around Lake Tahoe.

The system permits a human driver to take control by stepping on the brake or turning the wheel.

Google says it hopes to market the technology to auto manufacturers. It combines artificial intelligence software, a global positioning system and an array of sensors to navigate its way through traffic.

The DMV says other companies have indicated their desire to test and develop autonomous technology. “Google has a lot of competition,” Jacobs said.