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Our Technical Reality Part 4 of 6

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ULTra Transportation ULTra stands for Urban Light Transit, a new concept in travel for the 21st century. 12 years in development, ULTra brings a fresh approach to traffic congestion and pollution, responding to the needs of passengers. It's quick, comfortable and convenient. ULTra is an automated transit system using many four-person, zero emission, electric vehicles. ULTra gets you to your destination faster than a car and avoids parking hassles. ULTra is well suited to serve offices and airports blending in easily with modern architecture. ULTra makes transit and carpooling more effective, connecting a single train station to 30 000 desks. Stations are on a separate track from the main track, so that stopped vehicles do not interfere with the free flow of passing traffic. With ULTra, you don't wait for vehicles, vehicles wait for you. Modern communications and location sensing technology allow vehicles to run at precisely controlled intervals, creating a high-capacity system. Moving smoothly and silently, the battery powered vehicles are safe and reliable, travelling up to three times faster than a car. PRT allows complex transit networks, leaving tracks around buildings with tight turns, bringing transit right to the front door, placing many stations close together. Tracks don't have to go simply in a straight line. The network accommodates non-stop, point to point, direct service to all stations every time. ULTra stations can be located adjacent to buildings, or even directly on the second floor, further increasing convenience. At high capacity locations, ULTra stations have correspondingly more vehicle births, and more efficient vehicle choreography. ULTra is easy to use. After making your choice, ULTra will take you there non-stop. The vehicles allow easy access for bikes and wheelchairs, with plenty of space for people, backpacks and briefcases. London's Heathrow Airport will host the world's first ULTra system. Construction at Heathrow has already begun. ULTra is transit for a sustainable future. Public Test for Stanford Robo-Car San Francisco Chronicle|SFGate.com Here's a car that really puts the auto back into automobile. It's a 2006 VW Passat, and it's moving around this parking lot without a driver. No human is inside it, and noone is steering it by remote control. Nicknamed "Junior", this robot car probes it's environment with with rotating laser scanners, which paint a 360 degree image of the sorroundings, ten times a second. Then "Junior" decides for himself, using artificial intelligent software, running on powerful computers, just how best to proceed along the route that has been assigned to him. Sebastian Thrun leads the Stanford Engineering Team that's teaching "Junior" how to drive. We have to get cars that can understand the world, that can understand other vehicles, sense them, percieve them, make predictions, and interact with them. So we have to understand if we come to a stop sign, that the other car might be there first, it might want to go first, there are certain rules that govern regular traffic, and we have to be able to adhere to these rules, and we have to make machines that replicate human thinking in that specific domain. Watching "Junior's" every move is a group of inspectors from the government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA for short. They're the serious looking guys in the white shirts. They've come to Mountain View to evaluate "Junior", to test it's ability to maneuvre in city street conditions, along a course laid out on a parking lot at Shoreline Amphitheatre Stanford won't know until August, but if "Junior" performs to the DARPA judge's satisfaction, then the team can advance to the next round in DARPA's urban challenge. When? On November 3, as many as 20 robot-car teams will compete for a 2 million dollar grand prize. For the most part, Junior ran his routes without a problem. But at one point, he simply stopped and refused to go around a parked car. Apparently, his computer brain was programmed with a little too much caution. After finishing the other tests, DARPA let team Stanford and "Junior" have another go at it. Again, as he approached the parked car, "Junior" stopped, and seemed to give the situation careful thought. This time, however, a more confident "Junior" drove right around the stopped vehicle. After his test-drives were over, "Junior" got rockstar treatment from the media. Ok, so this is "Junior"... Sebastian Thrun, clearly pleased with "Junior's" performance, showed off the car's main features. It's a quick form* for driving by the computer. And the way you see this, first you see the trunk is full of computers. We can open for your sake. You see a computer system where the trunk usually is. There's a big computer station here, there's a GPS system over here, a connection hub over here, a power control box over here, and this box over here is the interface to the car itself. So, this box over here talks* to the car, and lets us, by computer, actually things like steering, break, and gas and throttle. Then, also important, is the perception of the vehicle, so you see down here, sensors on wheel over here, these guys over here, slightly dusty, they are sensors, and they are able to perceive the environment and build a model inside the vehicle, ? how the environment looks like. And the last important thing is when you get inside the drivers cabin, this looks very much just like a very normal driver cabin, except there's a few extra switches, and these are the switches where you go from human control to computer control. So, when you flip those, the car drives itself, and you have multiple switches for things like gear box and throttle and turn signals and so on. That, all together is the car, the last thing that I can't show you, is called software. So what really drives this machine is not the hardware, it's the smart systems, the computer programs, it's the artificial intelligence. And that's what this car does exceptionally well. For Stanford's autonomous vehicle team, this project is about something much more audacious than winning big prize money in the DARPA challenge. After all, that's something they've already done back in 2005. For them, it's really about building the future. I am very confident that at some point during my lifetime, you're gonna see cars that drives themselves. Would have a button in my car that says "Bring me home to my garage", and fall asleep, it's gonna drive me home, and were gonna be better off because every year in this nation we kill something like 42 000 people in traffic accidents, mostly because of human error. If we can make cars safer, if they can drive themselves, we can make blind people drive, we can make old people drive that otherwise couldn't drive anymore, children... Or me, when I'm fatigued or, God forbid, had a beer too much after a night in the pub. I think there's so many benefits of this technology, it's gonna be really great to have.

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 37 seconds
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Views: 146
Posted by: zeitgeistbrasil on Apr 12, 2010

An often debated topic by those who don't think The Venus Project will work is the notion that we don't have the technology to pull this off. This video addresses this. If you want the full uncut version, let me know.

www.thevenusproject.com

www.thezeitgeistmovement.com

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