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Euro Robotaxis Will Park and Charge, All by Themselves

They'll pick you up and drop you off, park themselves and charge themselves

1 min read
Euro Robotaxis Will Park and Charge, All by Themselves
Image: V-Charge

A European research consortium is finishing up a project to build a car that can drop you off at a train station, find an empty spot and park there, then pick you up later.

The project is called V-Charge because its cars will charge themselves, too. And, though it would fully automate just the beginning and the end of a trip and would work only at low speeds, the impact could be big if such cars reach the market soon.

And they will, asserts Paul Furgale, of ETH Zurich, the scientific director of the project. He spoke on Thursday at the REWORK Future Cities summit in London, according to Engineering and Technology magazine, which is based there. Three universities besides his own are involved: Oxford University, the Università degli Studi di Parma, and the Technische Universität Braunschweig. So are two companies: Volkswagen AG and Robert Bosch GmbH.

The cars will respond to commands sent through a smartphone app, and they will steer themselves, even in closed spaces that don’t have access to GPS signals, by using what are described as low-cost, “near-market” sensors. That would seem to include compact LIDAR units, which suppliers like Vimeo and Ibeo hope to sell for less than US $300 by 2016.

Right now, though, the researchers are testing Volkswagen Polos equipped with eight cameras of different kinds and 12 ultrasonic sensors. 

Even though the cars will proceed at a crawl, they’ll need all the eyes and brains they can get to stay out of trouble. 

“Pedestrians behave quite unpredictably in areas where cars are driving slowly,” Furgale said. “There are many objects around, and the car needs to be able to figure out whether these objects are static or moving and in what directions are they moving.” 

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Chinese Joint Venture Will Begin Mass-Producing an Autonomous Electric Car

With the Robo-01, Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely aim for a fully self-driving car

4 min read
A black car sits against a white backdrop decorated with Chinese writing. The car’s doors are open, like a butterfly’s wings. Two charging stations are on the car’s left; two men stand on the right.

The Robo-01 autonomous electric car shows off its butterfly doors at a reveal to the media in Beijing, in June 2022.

Tingshu Wang/Reuters/Alamy

In October, a startup called Jidu Automotive, backed by Chinese AI giant Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely, officially released an autonomous electric car, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition. In 2023, the car will go on sale.

At roughly US $55,000, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition is a limited edition, cobranded with China’s Lunar Exploration Project. It has two lidars, a 5-millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and 12 high-definition cameras. It is the first vehicle to offer on-board, AI-assisted voice recognition, with voice response speeds within 700 milliseconds, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8295 chip.

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