More ro­bot cars com­ing

BMW, GM and Volvo plan to re­move driver er­ror from roads

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - ALWYN VILJOEN • alwyn.viljoen@wit­ness.co.za

BMW, GM and Volvo last week un­veiled the next phases of their plans to make cars that will drive them­selves and even chat to the oc­cu­pants.

With nine in 10 fa­tal crashes blamed on driver er­ror, the man­u­fac­tur­ers say they can pre­vent at least 80% of car crashes by sim­ply not putting hu­man driv­ers in con­trol.

Fol­low­ing on its suc­cess­ful tests in the ro­bot minibus Olli, IBM has an­nounced a new col­lab­o­ra­tion with BMW to “ex­plore the role of Wat­son cog­ni­tive com­put­ing in per­son­al­is­ing the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and cre­at­ing more in­tu­itive driver sup­port sys­tems for cars of the fu­ture”.

This means fu­ture BMW mod­els will be able to “shoot the breeze” with the ve­hi­cle’s oc­cu­pants, as Wat­son is al­ready do­ing in the ro­bot minibus Olli, which this year com­pleted suc­cess­ful tri­als in sev­eral cities.

As part of the agree­ment, the BMW Group will col­lo­cate a team of re­searchers at IBM’s global head­quar­ters for Wat­son In­ter­net of Things (IoT) in Mu­nich, Ger­many, and the com­pa­nies will work to­gether and ex­plore how to im­prove in­tel­li­gent as­sis­tant func­tions for driv­ers.

Self-steering Bolt

In the state of Michi­gan in the U.S., Gen­eral Mo­tors said it will be­gin test­ing au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles on pub­lic roads.

GM CEO and chair­per­son Mary Barra an­nounced last week that GM will build the next gen­er­a­tion of its au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles at the Orion Town­ship assem­bly plant in the first quar­ter of 2017.

The plant will pro­duce the Chevro­let Bolt EV equipped with fully au­ton­o­mous tech­nol­ogy. It al­ready pro­duces the Bolt EV and the Chevro­let Sonic.

“Revo­lu­tion­is­ing trans­porta­tion for our cus­tomers while im­prov­ing safety on roads is the goal of our au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy, and to­day’s an­nounce­ment gets us one step closer to mak­ing this vi­sion a re­al­ity,” Barra said in a state­ment.

“Our au­ton­o­mous tech­nol­ogy will be re­li­able and safe, as cus­tomers have come to ex­pect from any of our ve­hi­cles.”

Michi­gan joined the states of Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia, where Uber last week launched self-driv­ing pi­lot in San Francisco with Volvo Cars.

Volvo part­ners Uber

Volvo said the move marks the next phase in a deep­en­ing al­liance be­tween Volvo and Uber af­ter the two com­pa­nies signed an agree­ment in Au­gust 2016 to es­tab­lish a jointly-owned project to build base ve­hi­cles that can be used to de­velop fully au­ton­o­mous driver­less cars.

These cars were ini­tially tested in Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia.

The lat­est cars to be used in San Francisco have been built by Volvo and sold to Uber, af­ter which Uber’s own self-driv­ing hard­ware and soft­ware pack­age has been added, most vis­i­bly in the roof-mounted con­trol ap­pa­ra­tus.

“The prom­ise of self-driv­ing ride shar­ing is be­com­ing a re­al­ity,” said Mårten Leven­stam, vice pres­i­dent prod­uct plan­ning at Volvo Cars. “Volvo is proud to be at the fore­front of the lat­est devel­op­ments in the au­to­mo­tive world along­side our part­ners.

PHOTO: MOTOR1.COM

GM CEO and chair­per­son Mary Barra an­nounc­ing the com­pany will build and test self-driv­ing Bolts in the state of Michi­gan.

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