Photokina 2014 highlights

Autonomous Vehicles

The self-steering autonomous tractor could soon see tractors working the fields on their o...

Many of us are eagerly awaiting the widespread adoption of autonomous cars to free us from the hassle of driving to and from work. This kind of technology also has applications beyond the roadway, especially in areas like farming where driving is the work ... and it's not on paved surfaces with markings and signs laid out. Dealing with the uneven and inconsistent terrain of a field poses unique problems that a team from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) and Flanders' Mechatronics Technology Centre (FMTC) in Belgium are claiming to have overcome with their robotic self-steering tractor.  Read More

Designed by UK-based company ULTra PRT, the system consists of 22 podcars, operating on 2....

Commissioned by BAA (Heathrow Airport's operator), the ULTra PRT transportation system, which utilizes autonomous electric podcars, has been launched at Heathrow Airport. The point-to-point vehicles connect Heathrow's Terminal 5 with two business parking lots, carrying approximately 800 passengers each weekday.  Read More

The SMSS Block I variant is heading to Afghanistan for a military evaluation

As a result of winning the Project Workhorse Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) competition sponsored by the U.S. Army, four Lockheed Martin Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) vehicles will be sent to Afghanistan as part of a three-month Military Utility Assessment (MUA). The 11-foot-long (3.3 m) SMSS, which can carry more than half-a-ton of a squad’s equipment on rugged terrain, will be the largest autonomous ground vehicle ever to be deployed with infantry.  Read More

Volkswagen has presented a new technology called Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP) which allows s...

Despite research by automakers such as Audi and events such as DARPA's Grand Challenge, we're still waiting for fully autonomous cars to chauffeur us about town. Volkswagen has presented a new system called Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP), which is a link between existing driver assist technologies and completely automated vehicles. While still being monitored by the driver, TAP allows semi-automatic driving on a highway at speeds of up to 130 km/h (80 mph).  Read More

Engineers have created an unmanned aircraft  known as the Batcopter, for studying the flig...

There are millions of Brazilian Free-tailed bats living in caves across Texas, and every night, those bats are somehow able to swarm through the air without crashing into one another. The researchers at Boston University’s Intelligent Mechatronics Lab wanted to know what the bats’ secret was, so that it could be applied to the flight control algorithms for their autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In order to learn more, they decided to fly a remote-control UAV into one of these bat swarms, and record the creatures’ reactions with three ground-based high-speed FLIR cameras, and on on-board 3D HD camera. The craft that they used, named the Batcopter, is a classic example of seat-of-the-pants engineering.  Read More

One of the GCDC participants will be the AnnieWAY team, from Germany's Karlsruhe Institute...

When it comes to developing new technologies, running a competition is always a good way of helping to speed progress. Not only do such events give researchers more of an incentive to develop their ideas to the fullest, but they also give them a chance to see and be inspired by what other people in their field have been working on. While last year’s Automotive X-PRIZE helped usher in utra-efficient yet practical automobiles, hopefully this weekend’s Grand Cooperative Driving Challenge will do the same for cars utilizing cooperative adaptive cruise control (CACC).  Read More

K-MAX unmanned helicopter sets payload record (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

The Unmanned K-MAX helicopter being developed by Kaman Corporation and Lockheed Martin has further demonstrated the potential of this type of aircraft in the field by completing a list of airdrop firsts. The milestones in payload weight and altitude were reached during a recent series of tests at the Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona where the KMAX (UAS) made guided airdrops via sling load at an altitude of 10,000 ft above sea level including a payload of 4,400 lbs.  Read More

German researchers have demonstrated a system that allows a car to be driven by thought co...

Since its formation in 2006, Freie Universität Berlin’s AutoNOMOS team has been researching and developing systems that could someday result in driverless, autonomous cars. Previously, they have successfully used an iPhone, an iPad, and an eye-tracking device to maneuver their Volkswagen Passat MadeInGermany test car. Now, using a commercially-available Emotiv EPOC brain-machine gaming interface, they have demonstrated that the car can be controlled by mind power.  Read More

Electric wheelchair fitted with laser line striper and other terrain assistance devices. C...

Many of the greatest civilian innovations can be traced back to military origins. Penicillin, radar, satellites and the Internet, just to name a few. So it is not uncommon for technologies developed for fighting wars to be found to have wider applications. The following idea is an example of this adaptation and is inspired by the important need of disabled veteran soldiers for independence and mobility. By using terrain sensing control systems designed for the guidance of autonomous vehicles on the battlefield, researchers have begun developing a system that will allow wheelchair users to access more areas than ever before.  Read More

The SARTRE project aims to automate slipstreaming of multiple vehicles on the highway

The European SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project, which is developing technology to automate slipstreaming of multiple vehicles on highways, is now a year into its three-year program. The first year has been spent ironing out the concept and investigating the requirements of a prototype system, as well as how people will react to using it. Now the program is set to enter the implementation phase, starting with the testing of a single lead and following vehicle.  Read More

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