It was on the motorway near Phoenix, Arizona, that I realised fully driverless cars might be quite a distant dream. And that was because our Google Waymo robo-taxi seemed incapable of leaving that motorway.We were in Arizona to record a radio documentary for the BBC World Service about the progress towards creating autonomous vehicles that would make our roads safer and replace human drivers with robots.Google leads this race at the moment and for the past six months has been offering a robo-taxi service, Waymo One, to a select few early adopters in and around the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. Our first ride with Waymo took us through the quiet suburban streets, where traffic is sparse and drivers well mannered. Here, the minivan, fitted out with a battery of sensors and high-definition cameras, performed very impressively, handling slightly tricky left turns, spotting other road users and slowing down as it passed a school.While a Google engineer sat behind the wheel, she never … [Read more...] about Robots on the road – how close is our driverless future?
Road race engineering
In 2010, the small community of specialists who pay attention to US road safety statistics picked up the first signs of a troubling trend: more and more pedestrians were being killed on American roads. That year, 4,302 American pedestrians died, an increase of almost 5% from 2009. The tally has increased almost every year since, with particularly sharp spikes in 2015 and 2016. Last year, 41% more US pedestrians were killed than in 2008. During this same period, overall non-pedestrian road fatalities moved in the opposite direction, decreasing by more than 7%. For drivers, roads are as safe as they have ever been; for people on foot, roads keep getting deadlier. Through the 90s and 00s, the pedestrian death count had declined almost every year. No one would have confused the US for a walkers’ paradise – at least part of the reason fewer pedestrians died in this period was that people were driving more and walking less, which meant that there were fewer opportunities to be … [Read more...] about Collision course: why are cars killing more and more pedestrians?
ROUTE 1 From the north-west ferry ports (St Malo, Cherbourg, Caen, Le Havre) down the west of France, via Nantes and Bordeaux, to the south-west La Chouette Cabane, near Laval, Pays de la Loire These three luxurious treehouses and a wooden gypsy caravan make for a peaceful rest from the road between Rennes and Angers. Eat dinner and breakfast on the sun-dappled terrace, after winching the hamper up by a pulley. And before hitting the road for the onward journey, let the kids meet and feed the animals on the farm. • Treehouses €105.50-135, caravan €81-110, both B&B for two, chouettecabane.fr Terragora Lodges, south of Cholet, Vendée This quirky glamping site, surrounded by fields and meadows, has a range of accommodation options, from a chrysalis-shaped cabin to clay mud huts – none of which could be described as “standard”. There is an on-site restaurant serving meals using fresh and seasonal produce, as well as a communal lounge space and … [Read more...] about French leave: fun places to stay on four routes to the south of France
With a car, most of these amazing journeys are impossible or prohibitively expensive. Most of these 10 routes could be done in a day or with a single overnight, but ideally you will spread them over a weekend, using the opportunity to hike over a mountain, laze by a lake or build a sandcastle. All routes only use public transport or scheduled services on heritage railways. Times given are for Saturdays and Sundays through the summer unless stated. Ticket prices (correct as of 14 May, 2019) are regular adult singles except where stated Break for the borderMid-Wales Start/end Shrewsbury stationMinimum One dayPotential stopovers Shrewsbury, Machynlleth, Aberdovey, Barmouth and BalaWeekend Friday night in Shrewsbury, Saturday Aberdovey or Barmouth for sandy beachesCost £25.70 (without rail extras) This fabulous odyssey through deepest Wales offers lots of jumping-off possibilities and alternatives. From Shrewsbury, get on the correct part of the train for Barmouth (it divides at Dovey … [Read more...] about 10 classic UK trips by public transport
It was deemed the 'first modern car' when it was released back in 1902. Now, Mercedes-Benz has transformed its Simplex vehicle for a futuristic spin on the classic. Called Vision Simplex, the new concept electric car pays homage to its retro hot rod predecessor with the same bucket-shaped body, but boasts more modern features - including some straight out of a comic book. The vehicle sports a rose gold frame, two seats and a 3D display board in front that provides information in the form of messages and animations. Vision Simplex is an electric car that pays homage to its 1902 hot rod predecessor, equipped with the same bucket-shaped body, but boasts modern day features straight out of a comic book VISION SIMPLEX Vision Simplex has no doors or windshield and only two seats - just like its predecessor.However, instead of headlights, it sports a large 3D display where the radiator grille was.This flashes messages and animations to provide information about what the vehicle is … [Read more...] about Mercedes-Benz redesigns its century-old hot rod: Stunning concept images reveal futuristic Vision Simplex with rose gold frame and 3D display