Posts Tagged United States House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Cadillac SRX converted into a self-driving car

Cadillac SRX converted into a self-driving car

By Randall Marsh

September 8, 2013

The 2011 Cadillac SRX is equipped with a 360 degree array of sensors for navigating roadwa...

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.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa) went on a test drive of the fully-autonomous Cadillac SRX

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.


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TSA bars security guru from perv scanner testimony • The Register

The Register® — Biting the hand that feeds IT

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.”

 TSA bars security guru from perv scanner testimony • The Register.

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Committee On Oversight & Government Reform


March 23, 2012


Have a TSA story or question you’d like to ask TSA leadership?


 Go to tell us your story.

Washington, DC – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) program challenges and failures will be the focus of a joint hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Monday.

This hearing will be led by Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL).             Mica is also a senior member of the Oversight Committee.  Both committees have focused on the need for significant TSA reform in order to improve transportation security and eliminate the waste of taxpayers’ money on ineffective or poorly implemented programs.

The focus of Monday’s hearing will include Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program, the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program, and other security initiatives administered by the TSA.  The Committees plan to continue conducting joint oversight hearings examining additional TSA issues in the coming months.

Members will solicit questions from the public via their Facebook pages to ask TSA officials at the hearing.

For more information on this hearing click here.

WHAT:           Joint hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure: “TSA Oversight Part III:  Effective Security or Security Theater?”

WHEN:           1:30 PM, Monday, March 26, 2012

WHERE:         2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515


·         Christopher L. McLaughlin, Transportation Security Administration, Assistant Administrator for Security Operations

·         Stephen Sadler, Transportation Security Administration, Assistant Administrator for Intelligence and Analysis

·         Rear Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, U.S. Coast Guard, Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security & Stewardship

·         Stephen M. Lord, U.S. Government Accountability Office, Director, Homeland Security

·         Bruce Schneier, BT Global Services, Chief Security Technology Officer; Author, Schneier on Security*

* Mr. Schneier will not testify at Monday’s hearing (UPDATE: 3/23/12)

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Read more… Committee On Oversight & Government Reform.

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