Watch This Fellow Drive a Ranger Rover With a Smart Phone

Remote-controlled cars are no longer just for Bond movies

1 min read
Watch This Fellow Drive a Ranger Rover With a Smart Phone
Image: Fully Charged

“Well, let’s see how it responds to my touch,” James Bond says to “Q” in the movie “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997). Then, drawing his finger across the touchpad of a phone, Bond sends a weapon-festooned BMW careening about without mishap.

Life imitates art. This veddy British film appears to have exerted a certain influence over a new generation of British boffins, who have pulled off the same trick with an app, a smart phone, and a Range Rover. It’s all shown in this recent episode of “Fully Charged,” an online transportation show hosted by actor and tech-enthusiast Robert Llewellyn:

It’s no mere parlor trick. Even this experiment in remote driving depended on an element of computer assistance, which cars are getting in ever-increasing abundance. At first the computer helps the driver with routine things, like parking; next the driver helps the computer with harder things, like nosing into crosstraffic; and finally the computer takes over entirely.

Another instance of what might be called driving by remote control is when a person steers with small movements of his head and mouth. That’s the idea behind the semi-autonomous motorcar, or SAM, named for the man who drives it, Sam Schmidt—a paralyzed former Indycar racer. The project is managed by Arrow, the Colorado electronics company.

True, Schmidt isn’t remote—he sits right behind the wheel of the car, a modified Corvette. But he controls it with the indirect panache of Bond himself. He steers by looking in the direction he wants to go, accelerates by puffing on a straw, and brakes by sipping on that same straw:

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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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