Robot Car Intersections Are Terrifyingly Efficient

In the future, robots will blow through intersections without stopping, and you won't be able to handle it

2 min read
Robot Car Intersections Are Terrifyingly Efficient

Last time we put our life in the hands of a robot car, it managed to park itself without crashing or abducting us. Robot cars also know how to drive like maniacs, and even how to powerslide. These are all very neat tricks -- tricks that might save your life one day. But what's going to happen when all cars are this talented? Efficiency. Scary, scary efficiency.

It's not just the sensor-driven skills that will soon be common to individual cars that will shape the future of automotive transportation, but also the ability for cars to communicate with each other, sharing constant updates about exactly where they are and where they're going. And with enough detailed information being shared at a fast enough pace between all vehicles on the road, things like traffic lights become completely redundant: 

Seriously, just watching this simulation (which comes from Peter Stone, a computer scientist at the University of Texas at Austin) makes me more than a little nervous. I'd have to go through that intersection with my eyes closed and probably screaming, but on the upside, I'd get through it without stopping, saving time and gas and (as long as all the robots behave themselves) actually preventing accidents.

So, how close are we to something like this? It's hard to say. In a lot of ways, we're just about there: we have cars that can drive themselves just about as reliably as a human can, and many automakers are working at inter-car communication. But as we've discussed before, there are a lot of legal and social issues standing in the way of widespread adoption, and it's going to take a concerted effort to provide a framework in which we can safely allow progress to be achieved.

Via [ The Atlantic ]

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How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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