The human is always necessary

News 14 February, 2018
  • Photo Simon-Pier Ouellet
    Ryan Schiffour spends eight hours per day to walk the streets of Pittsburgh in this Volvo XC90.

    Simon-Pier Ouellet

    Wednesday, 14 February, 2018 01:00

    Wednesday, 14 February, 2018 01:00

    Look at this article

    PITTSBURGH | The autonomous cars may be the future of personal transport, but the technology is still not quite to the point.

    The company Uber is testing of autonomous cars with driver in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    Ryan Schiffour is sitting eight hours a day behind the wheel.

    It circulates in the streets of the city center aboard one of the Volvo XC90 in order to accumulate data that allow engineers to improve the technology.

    “The progress we have made in the last year is exceptional. Previously, in the cars, Ford Fusion, one could feel that it was a computer that controlled the auto. The turns were tight. It is much more natural now, ” he says.

    In the course of a journey of approximately one hour conducted with the driver of Uber two weeks ago, the driver had to intervene four times in order to take back the controls of the car. The software asked for human help, because he no longer knew where to go.

    In a few seconds, Mr. Schiffour reprogrammait the software with the right information and the self left to itself.

    Cameras on the roof

    Despite these few glitches, the reaction of the car is amazing. The numerous cameras installed on the roof detect the traffic lights and obstacles on the road. The vehicle is stopped each time a green light turned to yellow.

    At a certain point, the car is locked-even before we saw another vehicle was backing from a parking lot. A sign that the computer can react faster than the human eye.

    Last line right

    The giants of the automotive industry in the last line right before offering a vehicle 100 % self-sufficient.

    The product manager, principal at Uber in Pittsburgh, Emily Duff Bartel, is aware that the large-scale deployment of this technology will require a social acceptability. Many citizens are still skeptical.

    “Even if it is progressing, we are still early in what we do. Our main priority at the moment is the security of the software, ” she said.

    Pittsburgh plays an important role in the development of the technology of autonomous cars. Four companies are currently conducting tests, including Argo-I and Aurora.

    Interesting laboratory

    The interest towards this city in Pennsylvania which includes a total of 446 bridges is not a coincidence.

    “The one who has imagined this city should be ashamed. It does not make sense to the occasion. But the many curves, bridges, and rainy climate make it an interesting laboratory, ” admits Ryan Schiffour.

    In this chapter, Montreal, with its four seasons, the bridges and the potholes could also become a laboratory.

    – With TVA Gatineau

    Movies and wi-fi while the car drives itself

    Car manufacturers are working already on the entertainment systems on board autonomous vehicles in anticipation of the day when they will drive by a software.

    Ford has filed a patent in order to equip its cars with a projection screen for watching movies.

    Intel teamed up with Warner Bros to offer the multimedia content to the inside of the car, using an internet connection wi-fi.

    Urban sprawl

    The large-scale integration of autonomous cars is expected to dramatically change the way cities are developing, promoting urban sprawl.

    Photo courtesy

    Randal O’toole, economist

    Can spend his time doing other thing on the inside of his car, people might be willing to live much further away, according to Randal O’toole, an american economist.

    “Consumers are going to settle in localities where the cost of homes is more affordable with bigger lots “, he believes.

    In his opinion, our society could live the same type of revolution that followed the invention of the automobile in the early 1900s.

    “Lifestyles will change, as was the case at the time. People give up the idea of being crammed into city centres to leave, ” predicts Mr. O’toole.

    With the electrification of transport, the environmental impact could be strongly reduced, even if people are travelling greater distances.

    The opposite effect could also occur while parking spaces possibly unused could be used to develop residential towers, according to Mr. O’toole.

    Goodbye to traffic congestion ?

    A simulation carried out in Portugal by the Organisation for economic cooperation and development shows that taxis without a driver could eliminate up to 90 % of vehicles in circulation, which would solve both the problems of congestion and significant expenditures by public transport.

    According to the technology expert Nicolas Genest, cities should not invest in the expenses of transit.

    “It is a serious mistake to embark on a project such as new trains. The impact that is going to have the autonomous car on the human travel going to be so upset the ecosystem, that we don’t know what to expect. “

    In addition to the reduction in the vehicle fleet, the mere fact that a car is being driven by a computer could reduce the congestion.

    Photo Dave Parent

    Highway 640 west is one of the problem areas to make it to Montreal in the morning. Some dream of the autonomous car the ability to regulate the traffic congestion.

    Still plugs ?

    An experiment conducted by the university of Illinois has demonstrated that, with only 5 % of autonomous vehicles on the roads, it is possible to eliminate the waves of acceleration, and then brake suddenly, caused by human behavior. An important phenomenon related to traffic congestion.

    This vision of the future of transport, however, is not shared by all.

    “I believe that projects such as the REM [rapid transit system metropolitan in the region of Montreal] will still be relevant. If 20,000 people take a car to go see the Canadian, there will still be traffic jams. You can’t think that there will be more outstanding if all the world forsakes the bus “, said the environmentalist Steven Guilbeault, of Équiterre.

    – With TVA Gatineau