Tag Archives: autonomous

Uber and Hyundai. Are we close to having air taxis on daily basis?

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Uber and Hyundai are collaborating to develop electric air taxis. The cars would revolutionize urban transportation. According to both businesses, they are entering a global race that will result in the advancement of ways to reduce traffic congestion in the world’s largest cities. Since 2016, Uber has been educating customers about the possibility of flying taxis. He intends to collaborate in this region with a total of eight firms. It functions as a safety net. The American corporation acknowledges that expecting all of its suppliers to hit the market at the same time would be unrealistic and irresponsible form business point of view.

Uber revealed its collaboration with Hyundai at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The company will produce flying taxis for Uber. A concept of such a vehicle and its associated infrastructure was also shown. The vehicles will be manufactured by the South Korean company, and Uber will, of course, offer flight sharing services. Aurora Flight Sciences, a division of Boeing, will also follow them. 


The flying taxis developed by Uber and Hyundai would be entirely electric and therefore very silent. They claim that by using smaller, electric-powered rotors, the aircraft can emit less noise than a combustion engine helicopter, which is important for communities concerned with noise emissions. The battery will allow you to travel up to 290 km/h over a maximum distance of 100 km. The vehicle can fly at altitudes ranging from 300 to 600 meters. During peak hours, recharging can take just between five or seven minutes. The cars would be capable of transporting up to four passengers. One of them will serve as the pilot at first. Uber will not have a completely automated fleet available to consumers until after 2028.

Hyundai also revealed designs for a landing center and an environmentally sustainable “Purpose Built Vehicle” (PBV) for ground transportation to and from the station. According to Hyundai, the PBV will look like a beige rectangle and will use AI to search suitable routes and fly in platoons. Each PBV would be able to perform a variety of functions, such as transportation, a coffee shop, or a medical clinic.

And how long would such a luxury set you back? 

Uber did not have specific pricing. We should anticipate that it would be expensive at first. Only as more air taxis arrive in the sky does the rate drop to that of Uber Black providers. According to Uber, if vehicles become self-driving, the expense of renting a cab would be the same as the cost of a regular car.

What’s next?

According to Uber’s announcements, the first private flying taxis could be operational as early as 2023. For the time being, it is only available in the United States. Currently the vehicles will only be operated by qualified drivers during the first phase of the project. However, the air taxis would eventually be completely autonomous. If it becomes success the vehicles will be for sure introduced in other countries. As a result of success, long flights will be avoided.  The technology is still in its early stages, and Uber and Hyundai, as well as a number of other players in the market, face immense regulatory and technological hurdles in launching their respective air taxi services.

In few years we will find out if air taxis will become our new reality. 






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Tesla, fatal accidents and false advertising

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Unfortunately on the 18 of April 2021 two people died after crushing into a tree in fatal accident in Woodlands, Texas. The car that these two people were in, was a Tesla and there was no-one in the drivers seat. This crash has sparked a discussion whether Tesla is false advertising its cars driving abilities or at least whether their naming scheme is misleading. So far Tesla denied that the vehicle was operating either in Full Self Driving mode, because the vehicle didn’t have an active subscription to this system, but they also said that according to the cars data logs autopilot was also not engaged. People tried disproving that the vehicle could be operating in these modes by showing that if you unbuckle the seatbelts, the car warns the driver and eventually pulls over, as it is shown in this short video:

Video showing how Tesla behaves after you unbuckle the drivers seatbelt

What the video fails to show is that this entire system can be extremely easily cheated by just bucking the seatbelt behind your back. By then the seats weight sensor is disengaged (it foolishly assumes that when the seatbelt us buckled there is someone sitting there). The last thing that separates you from “driving” from any other seat is cheating the sensors embedded in the steering wheel, which has been proven to be extremely easy (for example by hanging a water bottle on the steering wheel).

Of course, Tesla shouldn’t be responsible for their clients stupidity, but they should prevent them from exploiting these systems, especially this easily. Although now, on their website Tesla is explicitly saying that their Autopilot and Full Self Driving systems are only drivers assistance and so called “hands-on” (the steering wheel) systems, why name them as if they allowed you to leave everything up to the car, when this is clearly not the case. Even recently, in emails to California DMV, Tesla has admitted its supposedly Full Self Driving system, that is only available to 2000 beta drivers, is only working as a level 2 (hands on) autonomous system (in a scale from level 0 to level 5). In my opinion all of the Tesla’s “autonomous” systems in their offerings are just Advanced Drivers Assistance Systems, and should be Advertised as such – everywhere. The naming scheme is also highly suggestive, indicating the cars can do much more than they actually can.

Elon Musk has defended the name “Autopilot” saying that on airplanes, there also is an autopilot system and the pilot still has to be attentive and ready to take over. I think this argument is invalid, because pilots (especially commercial) are actually trained to use these features and have to have a certain amount of experience in order to be able to operate such machines.

Although for now the official states that the car was not operating in any of Teslas autonomous modes, how was it even operating if there was no-one in the drivers seat? Assuming that the car actually had autopilot engaged, this is not the first accident involving a Tesla car operating in this mode. Despite the statistics saying that Tesla’s autopilot is almost 10 times safer that “average” vehicle, with one accident every 4.19 million miles traveled with autopilot engaged vs one crash in every 484,000 miles for human-operated cars. Even though the number is impressive it could still be easily improved, if all of people driving Teslas understood what the systems that their cars are equipped with really were.

Stay safe, and remember to always pay attention to the road, whether you are using ADAS systems or not. Don’t text and drive. Stay hydrated.






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Amazon Scout robots are on their way to deliver packages

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Amazon Scout is a fully-electric robot that uses autonomous devices to safely deliver goods to the customers. 

After many hours of development in Seattle, Amazon has finally decided to let their robots to the tasks they were designed for. Initially, only 6 robots have been released now and all of them are in Washington state, Snohomish County. They will deliver packages Monday through Friday in daylight hours. While traveling through the County’s pavements, the robots can avoid human, pets or other objects on the way, but at the initial release which took place at Wednesday – Amazon said that the robots will be accompanied by an Amazon employee.

This is how the process is supposed to look like.

As you can see the robot is fairly big. My main concern is security. What could be stopping a potential robber from just straight up coming up and stealing the whole robot or when the lid opens taking out the package and running off. The idea is great, but somehow seems to have many holes that could be exploited. Those questions aren’t answered yet, but Amazon is looking at it pretty optimistically.

We are happy to welcome Amazon Scout to our growing suite of innovative delivery solutions for customers and look forward to taking the learnings from this first neighborhood so Amazon Scout can, over time, provide even more sustainability and convenience to customer deliveries.

Looks like they are equipped with proper tools and a plan. It is very exciting to see new autonomous devices helping people like this robot or Amazon’s drones. Questions will arise:

Is it likely for robots like this to take jobs away from people, leading to more unemployment?

And when will the technology leave the US and make it to Poland?


source: https://blog.aboutamazon.com/transportation/meet-scout

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