jueves, 1 de diciembre de 2016

What's it like being in a driverless car

The Swedish car maker Volvo is about to start recruiting ordinary people to commute to work next year in a driverless car.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions below.

1 How many members of the public are participating in the experiment?
2 What are the characteristics of the special roads where volunteers will be using the driverless cars?
3 If something unexpected happens, who will be in control, the driver or the car itself?
4 Where will driverless car be running in the UK?
5 What was to blame for the driverless car crash in US?
6 When will the driverless cars be operating?

Gothenburg in Sweden, home of Volvo, a place where drivers need to beware of the elks. On a test track, the company is showing me its unique experiment. And they will need members of the public to help.
They are going to ask a hundred ordinary people to commute in a car, but it’s not an ordinary car.
It’s an autonomous car. And then they’re going to tell those people they’re actually free to do anything else instead, so perhaps they'll want to send an e-mail.
From the track, to the evening commute. When next year Gothenburg's 100 volunteers will be driverless on specially picked roads. That's roads with no cyclists or pedestrians, and bearing in mind it’s Sweden, no snow. The computer needs to see the white lines. About as hands-free as you can get, the man in charge of the technology told me what would happen in an emergency.
If something unexpected happens, the car needs to be able to deal with it. We cannot count on a driver to immediately take over. So the car will be able to detect it and it will slow down in order to correct an accident.
So the car is going to do that, it’s not going to suddenly shove control back to the driver?
No, the driver may be sitting relaxed, reading, we cannot count on him or her to intervene immediately, so the car has to do it.
Things look a bit different in the UK. There are four major projects. In Milton Keynes, public-transport pods will eventually use the pavements to shuttle people between the shops and the station.
Would you happily share a pavement with one of those driven by a computer?
No, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t. They’re like… Maybe the choice is… it has to decide, it has to decide in an instant whether it’s got to stop or it’s got to carry on going for the safety of who's in it or who is on the outside.
You don't worry about it bumping into you?
No, no because you can easily move out of the way.
In the US, Google is leading the way in driverless testing, a million miles and counting. But they’ve just had their first crash, where the computer was at least partly to blame.  Experts describe a future straight out of a science-fiction novel.
You're going to see this technology in forklift trucks, in ports, on fields, down mines. It’s the same stuff. And that, for me, is extremely interesting, that this technology is not just about transport, it’s about all things that move.
Back on the test track, time to enjoy a drama on the telly. It could still take a decade or even two, but eventually children will marvel at the idea that people actually used to drive their own cars.
Richard Westcott, BBC News, Sweden.

1 100 
2 roads with no cyclists, no pedestrians, no snow
3 the car 
4 on the pavements
5 the computer partly
6 in ten or twenty years' time