Volvo Proving Ground, Gothenburg, Sweden — …The vehicle platooning system is a convoy of vehicles, where a professional driver in a lead vehicle drives a line of other vehicles. Each car measures the distance, speed and direction and adjusts to the car in front. All vehicles are totally detached and can leave the procession at any time. Once in the platoon, drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its destination.
Platooning is designed to improve a number of aspects, such as: road safety, as it rules out the human factor that is the cause of at least 80% of road accidents; fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions are saved by up to 20%; convenience for drivers, because it frees up time for other matters; and traffic congestion, as the vehicles will travel at highway speed with a gap of only a few meters between them. The tests carried out included a lead vehicle and single following car. The steering wheel of the following car moves by itself, as the vehicle smoothly follows the lead truck around the country road test track. The driver is able to drink coffee or read a paper, using neither hand nor foot to operate his vehicle. The technology development is well under way and is likely go into production in a few years time. What may take substantially longer is public acceptance of the system and the legislation where 25 EU governments must all pass similar laws…
[Hat Tip: Eddie Wren - International Road Safety - LinkedIn Group]
Here’s a video peak at some of the hardware and software systems at work inside the Google Prius that has been driving itself around San Fransisco traffic over the past few months.
From: The Spec
Robot drivers react faster than humans, have 360-degree perception and do not get distracted, sleepy or intoxicated, the engineers argue. They speak in terms of lives saved and injuries avoided — more than 37,000 people died in car accidents in the United States in 2008. The engineers say the technology could double the capacity of roads by allowing cars to drive more safely while closer together. Because the robot cars would eventually be less likely to crash, they could be built lighter, reducing fuel consumption. But of course, to be truly safer, the cars must be far more reliable than, say, today’s personal computers, which crash on occasion and are frequently infected.
The Google research program using artificial intelligence to revolutionize the automobile is proof that the company’s ambitions reach beyond the search engine business. The program is also a departure from the mainstream of innovation in Silicon Valley, which has veered toward social networks and Hollywood-style digital media.
During a half-hour drive beginning on Google’s campus 35 miles south of San Francisco last Wednesday, a Prius equipped with a variety of sensors and following a route programmed into the GPS navigation system nimbly accelerated in the entrance lane and merged into fast-moving traffic on Highway 101, the freeway through Silicon Valley.
It drove at the speed limit, which it knew because the limit for every road is included in its database, and left the freeway several exits later. The device atop the car produced a detailed map of the environment.
The car then drove in city traffic through Mountain View, stopping for lights and stop signs, as well as making announcements like “approaching a crosswalk” (to warn the human at the wheel) or “turn ahead” in a pleasant female voice. This same pleasant voice would, engineers said, alert the driver if a master control system detected anything amiss with the various sensors.
The car can be programmed for different driving personalities — from cautious, in which it is more likely to yield to another car, to aggressive, where it is more likely to go first.
ITS Congestion Challenge
The first global ITS Congestion Challenge, announced in June 2009, was open to entrepreneurs, commuters, transportation experts, researchers in all fields, universities, and citizens around the world. Three winners and six finalists from Hungary, Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States, were selected by an open global community of more than 4,000 people, including transportation industry professionals and the general public.
iCarpool provides commuters and other travelers with comprehensive travel choices for modes of travel other than driving alone. Read more.
FuelClinic, for their “Eco-System” and “Eco-Driver On Board” programs, which provide tools and certified eco-driving training to improve, track, and manage driver performance for increased fuel efficiency, increased driver safety, and reduced accident rates. Read more.
iCone Products, LLC, for an ITS concept to beam real-time traffic information over the Internet to a central web site for use by government officials, emergency response personnel, trucking fleets, the public and information resellers, including media outlets and GPS services. Read more.
A few more details today about the ITS Congestion Challenge as well as a video from the conference. Apparently there were 116 startups from over 20 countries – not the 90 that I had been quoting in this blog and in our press release. Some additional details about how it all worked from the Spenser Trask blog:
The challenge from June through August. The VenCorps community reviewed and rated the 116 participating startups on five criteria: the speed and efficiency of their solutions; behavioral impact; safety; sustainability; and economic competitiveness. Based on community ratings, nine finalists were picked for the 30-day Showdown. During the Showdown, community members allocated VenCorps Points to their favorite challengers.
In this video Gerry Mooney, IBM General Manager Fiscal Stimulus & Economic Recovery, talks about IBM’s commitment to helping solve traffic congestion problems and their intention to support some of the innovative new ideas that made it into the final round of the Challenge.
This sounds like an outstanding opportunity.
A few days ago the results of the global Intelligent Transportation Society (ITS) Congestion Challenge were announced at the VenCorps blog (registration required), and we were pleased to learn that FuelClinic.com had won 2nd place from a starting field of over 90 competitors:
The winners of the ITS Congestion Challenge were announced today in front of global transportation leaders at the ITS World Congress in Stockholm, Sweden. iCarpool won first place for $50,000 and 50,000 points, FuelClinic.com took second place for 25,000 points and iCone secured third place for 10,000 points.
These three companies will join the VenCorps portfolio, called the Launchpad. They will be able to use their points to grow by incentivizing our community to help them solve business problems big and small.
Judging from the results released at VenCorps, our little community turned out in force to compete against some very well established competition. Taking a look at the graph published at the VenCorps blog, you can see that iCarpool was simply unbeatable in this competition, able to motivate a virtual tsunami of voters for their cause.
Rachel and I would like to send a heart-felt “Thank You!” to each of you who took the time to lend your support for FuelClinic, and who believe in our efforts to improve our roads and highways through advanced driver education.
A 1st place finish included a $50K seed-funding award, unfortunately there was no such award for 2nd place in this contest. We continue to seek seed-funding to turn our prototype system into a commercial application. We continue to work to meet our shared goals of helping people save money, reduce our oil dependence, cut pollution, and create safer and more intelligent drivers.
The month long contest was held in August 2009, and was sposored by The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), IBM , Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations (STCI), and partners.
The much anticipated announcement was made earlier today at the 16th World Congress on ITS , and online at the ITSA website.
STOCKHOLM – 23 Sept. 2009: The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations (STCI), and partners announced the results of the ITS Congestion Challenge, a global competition to find the best ideas for reducing traffic congestion.
The three organizations announced the selection of iCarpool.com at the 16th World Congress on ITS in Stockholm. iCarpool.com, headquartered in Issaquah, WA, won the competition among more than 116 entries from 20 countries. The organization will receive a cash investment of $50,000 USD, which will be used for further development of its solution.
For more info on the ITS Congestion Challenge and the other finalists please see the full Press Release - PDF
We here at FuelClinic would like to say “Well done!” and congratulations to iCarpool on their 1st place finish.
Read the entire press release (pdf).
The ITSA Challenge is now finished, and voting is now closed.
An enormous Thank You! to everyone who took the time to help support FuelClinic in the ITSA Challenge. The winners will be announced in a few weeks at the ITS World Congress in Sweden. I’ll update this page and our blog as soon as I can with the latest information.
It’s now down to the last few days of the $50,000 ITSA start-up grant contest.
The field started with 90 start-ups. FuelClinic was among 9 finalists selected on August 1st. It looks like we are in the top 3 start-ups, but there’s no way to know for sure.
Now we need to have as many points “allocated” by VenCorps “facilitators” as possible to win. You can become a “facilitator” for free, in no time, and immediately start with 500 points.
Step 1: Register here as a “facilitator” – it’s free and immediate registration (you do not have to check your email to confirm it). If you’ve registered before, you do not need to re-register.
Step 2: Next find FuelClinic at this page:
Step 3: Next, choose to “Allocate Points” to FuelClinic – your allocation is a “vote” for the winner. (You get 500 points when you registered.) This is the key step to winning the grant.
While you are there, take a look thru the business plan if you want – you can see how hard Rachel and I have worked to create a compelling pitch. If you aren’t sure what FuelClinic “is” – it’s explained there.
Winning this grant will ensure we can start building FuelClinic into a real business, changing our lives forever, and helping FuelClinic make a real difference in the world.
The challenge ends Monday, and I’m asking you to take less than ten minutes before then to help us secure a number one finish. Thank you for you time and your help! Please pass this around as far as possible.
Today Rachel and I had our due diligence call with Vencorp and ITSA Congestion Challenge experts. This event wraps up the final phase of requirements for the month-long process to build our strongest business case why FuelClinic should win the $50,ooo and the opportunity to be on stage in front of the “prime movers” in international transportation planning at the upcoming ITS World Congress in Sweden.
Over the next few days we expect to see the experts add their opinions to the FuelClinic portfolio in that contest. Their opinions will round out the materials available there – which include our our pitch, the executive summary, 20 questions and answers, our team member profiles, our presentation slide show, along with comments from other facilitators in the Vencorp family.
This comprehensive collection of materials is our final submitted package for the funding contest, and paints the most complete picture FuelClinic ever available. If you are at all interested in learning more about this site, our business plan, or our vision – this is the one place to look for all the current details – many unavailable anywhere else.
While you are there, please help support us and give us the final boost we need to spark this smoldering success into the very next blazing success story – details about how you can join and apply points to FuelClinic are on this page. We’re up against 8 other strong solutions, and really need your support.
This challenge wraps up on August 31st, winners will be notified shortly after, with the big public announcement in Stockholm, Sweden at the ITS World Congress later in September.