Jaguar is putting animated eyes on their autonomous cars to make them safer

The car evolved from the horse-carriage, and for the longest time, looked like a carriage with an engine, until it began developing facial features. The headlights began becoming the eyes, and the radiator grill became the mouth. Cars started developing personas, ranging from friendly to aggressive, depending on what the brand wanted the car to project. These eyes, however, remained just expressive elements, and didn’t serve a purpose apart from portraying friendliness/aggression and illuminating the road. Jaguar, however, feels adding literal eyes to the car will make them safer.

Cars are no longer an extension of their driver. With vehicles now increasingly becoming autonomous, the car is now a completely individual entity that drives on its own, makes certain decisions, follows road laws and traffic lights… however you can’t really ever tell what a car will do next. It’s impossible to know what the car is thinking, and what command chain it’s going to follow, so Jaguar believes the best way to keep the car communicating with pedestrians, is through the means of eyes. These eyes (albeit rather animated and googly) are quite a clever solution, as they can literally look at pedestrians, acknowledging their presence with their gaze. Pedestrians eventually feel much more comfortable crossing the road in front of a self-driving car with eyes as it observes them, allowing them to know that they’re being watched and accounted for.

For a pedestrian, “It’s second-nature to glance at the driver of the approaching vehicle before stepping into the road,” says Pete Bennett, Jaguar Land Rover’s Future Mobility Research Manager. Now, the pedestrian can exchange looks with the car! There HAS to be a Cars or Bob The Builder reference out there!

Designer: Jaguar Land Rover

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Volvo’s Vera makes trucking autonomous and safe

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Autonomous trucking makes sense for a whole lot of reasons. While it will reduce the jobs held by human truck-drivers, it automates a profession that’s known for being intense. A self-driving truck, unlike a human-driven truck, could operate 24×7 and even at odd hours without worrying about the human sleeping behind the wheel. The trucking company doesn’t need to worry about wages, overtime, benefits, holidays, or even unions. The process becomes much safer, much more efficient, and immensely streamlined.

Companies are already entering the Self-driving truck market, with Tesla’s Semi boasting of incredible speeds, and Einride’s T-Pod showcasing a completely driverless concept. Now that Volvo’s entering the mix, we have a concept that promises to echo the brand’s dedication to safety and reliability… and just like with Volvo’s 360c autonomous car, the Vera is a conceptual autonomous truck that absolutely eliminates the need of a driver. The Vera, in fact, doesn’t even have space for a driver. Designed to look kind of like the pushback vehicle used by airplanes, the Vera is a small yet powerful platform/palette with wheels that attaches to the base of a cargo container, transporting it from A to B using artificial intelligence and a zero-emission electric propulsion system.

Intended for short commutes, accomplishing regular and repetitive tasks, the Volvo Vera will be connected to a cloud service and a transport control center to manage its predetermined routes. This control center will keep track of various details, such as the truck’s progress, a live log of every Vera on the road, the charge of each of their batteries, their load content, service requirements, and other crucial metrics.

Silent, safe trucks on our highways? I sure could live with that, Volvo!

Designer: Volvo

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BMW developed a self-driving motorcycle to further its safety efforts

This week, BMW Motorrad showed off a self-driving version of its R1200GS, a motorcycle that it spent more than two years developing. You can see in the video below that the motorcycle, sans rider, can start, accelerate, lean into turns and stop all o...

Volvo’s self-driving car has a redesigned seat belt for sleeping passengers

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For a car that was built to be a room/cabin on wheels, safety takes on a completely different avatar. You can’t opt for the traditional seat-belt in a car that was literally designed to be practically a bedroom on wheels. That’s the dilemma for Volvo’s 360c, a car that was quite literally built to be “architecture that transports you”. Focusing on empathizing with the traveler, the car is built with no steering wheel, pedals, or even a traditional dashboard. Instead, the car is treated as a cabin either for work (giving you more productivity), or rest (allowing you to grab a few winks during your long commute), and with that status of being a cabin on wheels come a few concerns… namely “how do you protect a sleeping passenger during a road mishap?”

Especially a concern for Volvo, given its reputation of being a brand that always puts safety and reliability first, the car company decided that the traditional safety methods like seat-belts and SRS airbags would simply not do. So in comes Volvo’s replacement… a Safety Blanket.

The ideation started with Volvo’s engineering team first looked at different reclinable positions (with the seatbelt), much like an airplane, but it came with its share of constraints, like what if the person wanted to sleep on their side, or roll over. Besides, airplane seatbelts are made to secure you during turbulence, while a car seatbelt is made for much more grave scenarios. The Safety Blanket works much like the seat-belt, in the sense it restrains you at the moment of impact, but as safety measure, is much more complicated and nuanced. A seat-belt works great because you’re always seated in a certain way. When you sleep, you’re either sleeping supine, or on your side, or even your stomach. The blanket covers your body and consists of restraints that would tighten around your shoulders and hip areas in the event of a collision or hard braking.

“The idea is to select a personalized blanket for your needs and you wear it for comfort and coziness and it will then provide protection during a crash.” says Lotta Jakobsson, senior technical expert at Volvo. “The challenge is making sure it interacts with you, being different in sizes, sleeping differently.” The Safety Restraint Blanket currently is just a work in progress, but given how soon self-driving cars will begin occupying our roads, it won’t be long before a more detailed, tested, and validated version of this will begin being implemented. “You need to figure out how you won’t be injured by things,” Jakobsson said. “It’s definitely keeping us busy.”

Designer: Volvo

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Mercedes self-driving van concept swaps bodies to match its cargo

Self-driving vehicles are useful for hauling both people and cargo, but you can usually only prioritize one of those tasks unless you can afford to buy separate vehicles. Mercedes-Benz might have a solution to the problem: build a machine that can ch...

Volvo’s autonomous car is basically architecture with wheels

Let’s think about it for a second. If the most important aspect of a car (the driver) is removed, how much should a car look and behave like a car? It wouldn’t necessarily need steering wheels, a gear, pedals, rear-view mirrors, or a traditional dashboard, so what’s the difference between a self-driving car (without any of the above) and a cabin on wheels?

The only true constant in the case of a self-driving car is the traveler, believes Volvo. Focusing on the traveler’s experience, the voice in the video asks “What if autonomous travel can eliminate the stress that lurks between A and B?”. Volvo’s 360c wants to be perceived as not a car, but as an extension of your home. A moving home, or perhaps a modern-day caravan. The car is designed to be architecture on wheels, serving as a place of relaxation, entertainment, preparation, or even business… on the go. With an interior that focuses on being empathetic towards the traveler’s journey, the 360c can be a bedroom that allows you to de-stress on long travels, or have a relaxed commute to the workplace. It can also make your work commute a whole lot more productive by offering the connectivity and space of a mobile office, giving you as much as 2-3 extra hours in the day to be your most productive self.

The philosophical focus on the traveler results in a car that may fit into the traditional design outline of an automobile, but features a few key differences. The interior was given much more focus than the exterior, turning the boxy space into a room of sorts that can be used for work, play, and sleep. Generous use of glass lets you feel aware of your surroundings, while even providing the ability to tint it, turning the interiors into a more private area for work or to catch a few winks. The car completely does away with the steering wheel too, and while relinquishing that control may worry some, Volvo hopes that its brand image of car safety and reliability should help quell those doubts. The 360c is currently just being treated as a concept, but it provides a rather insightful window into Volvo’s direction in the coming future.

Designer: Volvo

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Volvo 360c Interior

Volvo 360c Interior

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Volvo 360c Exterior Safety

Volvo 360c Exterior Safety

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Volvo 360c Exterior

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Designer: Volvo

Lyft and Aptiv complete 5,000 self-driving rides in Las Vegas

Lyft's experiment with paid self-driving rides in Las Vegas appears to be going as smoothly as you might hope. Lyft and its partner Aptiv have revealed that they've completed 5,000 autonomous trips since launching service earlier in 2018. The passeng...

Kroger starts testing self-driving grocery delivery in Arizona

You now have a chance to try Kroger's self-driving grocery delivery... if you happen to live in the right part of Arizona. The chain has launched its driverless delivery pilot at a single Fry's Food Stores location in Scottsdale, giving you a chance...