Ticket to Anywhere?
Welcome back to The Stack, a monthly newsletter featuring the best content about the field we’re all so passionate about: self-driving cars.
This month’s edition busts the top four self-driving technology myths, provides a snippet of what it sounds like to ride in an autonomous vehicle with Argo AI Test Specialists, and offers a thought-provoking piece on what type of automation really makes sense for a self-driving vehicle.
Ready to roll? Let’s go!
Can You Drive There Now?
Mobile devices are ubiquitous in the year 2021, but when cell phones first became available to people in the 1990s, the areas in which you could actually get a wireless signal were few and far between. (Remember those old Verizon “Can You Hear Me Now” commercials?) That didn’t stop cell phones from becoming incredibly popular though, and soon enough, the map of cell service across the U.S. expanded to cover much — but notably, still not all — of the country.
Alex Roy, Director of Special Operations at Argo AI offers a provocative piece that compares the history of these gadgets to the development of self-driving cars, which, like cell phones in the 90s — are at the very earliest stage of consumer availability but have huge potential.
In so doing, Roy makes the case that we shouldn’t expect, or even want, self-driving cars that can go anywhere, anytime. There are simply some places and times we should never drive (see the volcano pic above), no matter who is controlling the car — a human or a self-driving system. The best human drivers know this, and so too will the safest self-driving systems.
Rally car racers are somewhat unique in the racing world in that traditionally, there were two occupants in every vehicle — a driver and a navigator in the passenger’s seat calling out obstacles ahead.
Turns out, this practice is useful for self-driving car development, too. Read (and listen to audio of) how Argo AI Test Specialists use “commentary driving” while road testing autonomous vehicles.
In the case of Argo AI test drives, the Test Specialist behind the wheel calls out what they’re seeing to their co-pilot in the passenger’s seat, who compares it with a laptop view of the self-driving system’s perception. This allows the Test Specialists to ensure the car is accurately perceiving and acting on objects in the real world.
When was the last time you bought something online? How about in person, in a real physical store? For much of the last year, the latter was a fraught experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing brick and mortar retailers to suffer drastic losses in business. Meanwhile, Amazon and other “e-tailers” saw record traffic and sales.
Now as vaccination rates rise and health protections are lifted, foot traffic to stores is returning. But small businesses in particular are still struggling to match the convenience of online shopping and the consumer expectations of fast, next-day or same-day delivery.
Autonomous vehicles can help bridge this gap, according to retail experts. They could offer a way for brick and mortar shops to make rapid local deliveries, as well as allow consumers to travel to their favorite retail outlets without worrying about the hassles of finding parking.
Top 4 Self-Driving Myths, Busted
Autonomous vehicles will be everywhere soon, right? And they’ll make public transit and driver’s licenses obsolete, too, yeah? That is…if we can ever really trust them.
Not true, gumshoe! All of these are common myths about the way self-driving technology is developing and how it will integrate with society. How do we know they’re myths? Ground Truth investigated their veracity by speaking to various industry experts and leaders.
On Our Radar (and Lidar)
A real, legit, honest-to-goodness hoverboarder was spotted flying/hovering around Times Square, NYC, captivating Twitter. The flier was later revealed to be 28-year-old inventor Hunter Kowald, not Spider-Man villain Green Goblin as some feared.
Just in time for summer cookouts and gatherings, Heineken made an autonomous beer cooler.
Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess said when it comes to autos, autonomy will “transform the industry more than EVs or the electrification does,” going so far as to call the trend the “new auto.”
See some other cool/important/strange/noteworthy autonomy links you want to share? We’ll take them at Stack@argo.ai! We may just include your recommendations in a future edition of this newsletter.
Check out some of our many openings across the U.S. and Germany, plus remote offerings, too.
Don’t see the right fit? The full list is here.
Follow That Car!
If you want more stories like these, plus info on what we’re up to, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and the web (and more social channels coming soon)!
Stay up to date with our monthly newsletter, The Stack.