Posts Tagged United States House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Cadillac SRX converted into a self-driving car
September 8, 2013
The 2011 Cadillac SRX is equipped with a 360 degree array of sensors for navigating roadways without a driver
Self-driving cars have been the talk of the automotive industry in recent times, with some major car-makers now setting dates for the debut of these vehicles in the marketplace. The latest glimpse into this autonomous future comes from Carnegie Mellon University, where researchers have loaded a Cadillac SRX with an array of sensors that allow it to manage highway traffic, congested roadways, and even merging on and off ramps.
The Carnegie Mellon team, led by Raj Rajkumar, outfitted an average-looking 2011 Cadillac SRX with an array of radars, which are subtly hidden within the car. The SRX was chosen because “GM has been a long-term partner and sponsor,” Rajkumar tells Gizmag.
Utilizing automotive-grade sensors and radars, rather that more exotic and expensive devices, helps make the vehicle more manufacturer friendly, as well as cost effective. Though not all of the radars are certified as automotive-grade yet just yet, “they will be soon, and are known to be very reliable,” Rajkumar says. “They are placed all around the vehicle for 360 coverage.”
Like other autonomous cars, the modded SRX’s system controls general driving functions like steering, acceleration, and braking. Using the radar system, this vehicle also senses and avoids roadway hindrances, like pedestrians and cyclists. “Our Cadillac also supports V2V and V2I communications,” Rajkumar explains. This communication allows the SRX to connect with designed traffic lights and other vehicles that are equipped with the technology, making driving adjustments that much less strenuous on the radar system.
The main goal of the CMU research team is to reduce accidents, but catching up on reading during commutes has its perks as well. “The car’s electronics are simply more reliable than people and will protect drivers from their own bad behavior as well as those of others,” says Rajkumar.
Similar to Nissan’s prediction, Rajkumar foresees autonomous vehicles hitting the road by 2020. “There are technical issues, but also issues of social acceptance, a regulatory regime being in place, and insurance matters to be resolved,” Rajkumar tells Gizmag. “All must progress for this technology to be deployed in practice.”
With this in mind, the team recently took US Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Barry Schoch, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, for a 33-mile ride from Cranberry, PA to the Pittsburgh International Airport – a ride which is full of heavy traffic, road obstacles, and challenges for even the best commuters.
During the trip, a researcher stayed in the driver’s seat, as a precaution, but the vehicle managed to flawlessly navigate itself on the journey.
As the world progresses toward fully-autonomous, road-safe vehicles, there are plenty of challenges, but the CMU researchers are prepared to take the reigns – or the wheel. “The world is very unpredictable, so the intelligence in the car must be able to deal with any and all conditions that arise,” says Rajkumar. “Federal R&D investments in technology will transform transportation (in terms of safety and efficiency) and technical leadership.”
- Cadillac SRX converted into a self-driving car (markcathey.com)
- Cadillac SRX Converted Into Self-Driving Car (tech.slashdot.org)
- Cadillac SRX converted into a self-driving car (gizmag.com)
- CMU’s Autonomous Car Doesn’t Look like a Robot (spectrum.ieee.org)
- Congressman rides 33 miles to airport in computer-driven car… (bigstory.ap.org)
- Computer-operated car transports Pa. congressman (sfgate.com)
- Computer-operated car transports Pa. congressman (news.yahoo.com)
- Driverless Cadillac performs flawlessly in road test (goerie.com)
- Driverless car transports Pa. congressman (kfwbam.com)
- Congressman hitches a ride in a stealthy self-driving Cadillac (theverge.com)
TSA bars security guru from perv scanner testimony
Last minute excuse blocks Bruce Schneier
Security expert Bruce Schneier was been banned at the last minute from testifying in front of congress on the efficacy – or otherwise – of the US Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) much-maligned perv scanners.
Schneier is a long-time critic of the TSA’s policies for screening travelers, and was formally invited to appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearings. However, the TSA objected to his presence because he is currently involved in a legal case over the use of said scanners in US airports.
“I was looking forward to sitting next to a TSA person and challenging some of their statements. That would have been interesting,” Schneier toldThe Register. “The request to appear came from the committee itself, because they’d been reading my stuff on this and thought it would be interesting.”
Schneier, who is currently involved in an Economist debate on just this issue, has criticized the TSA’s procedures as “security theater“, designed to give the appearance of security without actually being effective. He has pointed out that the scanners are easily defeated, and that since people who do have items are merely forced to give them up and sent on their way, terrorists simply need to send enough people through the systems until one of them succeeds.
This isn’t the first time the TSA has been less than willing to have itself subject to anything like the same scrutiny that aircraft passengers are routinely put through. Last year they ducked out of similar hearings at the last minute, apparently because they didn’t want to sit next to representatives from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
The use of the perv scanners is highly controversial. The TSA has spent millions of dollars to buy them, and the industry hired ex–Homeland Security supremo Michael Chertoff as a lobbyist to push the technology. However, there have been numerous examples of people claiming to be able to beat the scanners, concerns about the health implications of scanning, and the so-called “homosexual” pat-downs introduced to encourage people to use them caused a national day of protest.
There are currently several ongoing legal cases against the scanners, including one recent case in which, it is claimed, attractive female subjects were being repeatedly ordered to use the devices. Personal airport searches have to be performed by a member of the same sex as the target, but no such rules are in place for operators of the scanners.
“I think the TSA has really painted themselves into a corner over this,” Schneier told us. “They’ve said the scanners were absolutely necessary for security, and made the pat downs you can have as an alternatives so unpleasant. It’s going to be really hard for them to back down, if indeed they can.”
- Bruce Schneier and the TSA (q-ontech.blogspot.com)
- TSA bars security guru from perv scanner testimony (go.theregister.com)
- Committee On Oversight & Government Reform (mbcalyn.com)
- TSA Oversight: Tell Us Your TSA Story (oversight.house.gov)
- Congress Wants Your TSA Stories (yro.slashdot.org)
- Congressional Testimony on the TSA (schneier.com)
- Vanity Fair On the TSA and Security Theater (news.slashdot.org)
- TSA Oversight Hearing Today at 130 PM EST: Effective Security or Security Theater? UPDATE: Video Added (nicedeb.wordpress.com)
- Recipe for Awesome: One Part Bruce Schneier + One Part Trope + One Part Geekery (crimedime.com)
- Bruce Schneier on The Internet, Scale and Trust (q-ontech.blogspot.com)