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Nissan is one of the latest car manufacturers to hop on the autonomous driving bandwagon, having just announced its ProPILOT technology.
The system is heading for the UK version of the Qashqai in 2017 and it aims is to assist drivers on the motorway, taking on some of the controls, while the driver can sit back.
Make no mistake, ProPILOT is not a completely automated self-driving system like some others we have tried. It won’t change lanes for you, it won’t move you over when another car is coming up behind you at over 200kmph, and if you stop for longer than three seconds, you’ll need to reactivate it. But, it offers a glimpse into the future of driving and a future that is accessible.
Nissan ProPILOT: How does it work?
The beauty of Nissan’s ProPILOT system is its simplicity. Like Audi’s piloted driving, the system is activated with a push of a dedicated button on the steering wheel. In Audi’s case, it’s a simultaneous push of two buttons, while with Nissan, it’s a press of the Pilot button, followed by a press of the Set button.
After the Set button has been pushed, it’s then possible for the driver to set the speed up to 62mph, which is shown on the 7-inch dash. When the system is activated, the word Pilot will appear at the top of the dash in blue, along with the car in front and green lines indicating the lane markings.
ProPILOT currently only works in single lane traffic, using a high resolution mono camera situated behind the rear view mirror to recognise vehicles and lane markings in three dimensional depth thanks to Mobileye’s image processing. Rival systems tend to combine cameras with other sensors like radar and ultrasonic and some are also a little more advanced in terms of features. Tesla’s AutoPilot, for example, is capable of dealing with multi-lane highways, which is something Nissan plans to introduce to ProPILOT in 2018, followed by support for urban areas and junctions in 2020.
In terms of the current ProPILOT technology however, information obtained by the camera is processed by the Advanced Driver Assistant System (ADAS) ECU microprocessor and the car responds accordingly, whether this be slowing down to keep a safe distance between you and the preceding car, or turning a corner as seamlessly as possible, keeping in the middle of the lane. There is an electric parking brake to ensure the position of the car is held when it comes to a stop, while an Electronic Control Module (ECM) is responsible for throttle control, Electronic Power Steering (EPS) allows for automated steering and Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) ensures automated braking.
It’s required by law for your hands to remain on the wheel, even when an autonomous driving system is steering for you. In the case of Nissan’s ProPILOT, this can be just a finger when travelling at slow speeds but the sensor sensitivity increases as speed does, meaning you’ll probably have to place a few more fingers on if travelling at the max 62mph. The steering wheel uses torque sensors rather than touch so it is able to detect the force with which you are holding the wheel and not just whether you are holding it.
When the system is happy with your hand and wheel relationship, a green steering wheel icon appears in the dash. Take your hand off entirely for more than 20 seconds and the system will warn you nicely once, followed by a harsher warning. Ignore the second warning and ProPILOT deactivates. The system will also warn the driver and deactivate if it doubts any elements of its ability, such as if there is too much sunlight affecting the camera’s vision and processing capabilities.
Nissan ProPILOT: What is it like?
Cruising around a Nissan test track with our feet on the floor and our hands only gently touching the wheel was somewhat liberating. There is something amazing about sitting in the driver’s seat, but not actually having to pay much attention to anything, other than the technology we are testing.
The ProPILOT system felt almost natural by the end of our second drive, although we’d be lying if we said it still isn’t a little scary. The autonomous steering part is something we could easily get used to though, despite it feeling a little odd lightly holding the wheel and feeling it pull. The car turned corners smoothly and remained in the middle of the lane. We did experience a couple of drifts to the left after going under a bridge however and while they weren’t substantial enough to have us intervene, they were enough for us to notice.
Inclines were also a little less impressive than we expected with the car seeming to lack power. The ProPILOT system delivers a mild acceleration to get you up the hill slowly and we found it a little too slow. Whether our impatience is to blame or the 30mph maximum speed limit, we were tempted to intervene here just to speed things up. That said, general automated acceleration was good.
Unlike autonomous steering, we aren’t sure autonomous braking is something that will ever stop us holding our breath for a brief moment. It worked perfectly though, with the car gradually reducing speed as we approached the car in front. Nissan claims the ProPILOT technology is better than emergency braking systems. As we mentioned previously, stop for longer than three seconds and you have to press the resume button (RES+) or touch the accelerator for ProPILOT to kick in again, much like existing adaptive cruise control systems.
The reactivation is quick and easy but three seconds is not long enough, especially in the UK with traffic jams often involving cars stopping for a lot longer. Less than three seconds and the car automatically starts following the preceding car, keeping a safe distance. It’s all very civilised but the three-second rule is certainly something we would like to see increase when the technology launches in Europe, as well as the 62mph speed limit to at least 70mph.
Our test drives with the ProPILOT technology were restricted to a test track, as well as a 30mph speed. It’s worth noting if there is no car in front, the ProPILOT system will not work when travelling at speeds under 30mph. It’s also worth mentioning the test track featured very clear road markings, which won’t always be the case in real life and without the clear markings, the system won’t work.
Nissan ProPILOT: When will it be available and how much will it cost?
Nissan’s ProPILOT technology will be available on the new Serena from August in Japan. Although an exact price wasn’t detailed, Nissan said the technology would be available for under three million Japanese Yen, which is around £21,500.
ProPILOT will be coming to Europe on a face-lifted Qashqai in 2017. No specific date or price has been announced, but the current top-spec Qashqai costs around £27,000, which is quite a bit less than a Tesla featuring the AutoPilot option. The technology will also be coming to the US and China but no timeline was given.
Nissan plans to have 10 core car models featuring ProPILOT within the next four years.
Nissan ProPILOT: First impressions
The Nissan ProPILOT technology is a great step in the right direction when it comes to bringing autonomous driving to the masses. Yes, there are systems more advanced out there already, but these systems are on cars that cost double, if not triple the price.
Nissan plays it safe with the first launch of ProPILOT. It is basically a combination of existing technologies and while the automated steering part is mostly new, the other elements are very much like adaptive cruise control.
We found a couple of little niggles, such as the three-second rule and lack of power on an incline but overall, the ProPILOT system appears to do what it is supposed to. It is is a great starting block to build consumer confidence in autonomous driving technology and it has every potential to make those boring long distance journeys and traffic jams that little bit more bearable by removing some of the legwork … literally.
Following yesterday’s FCC vote to adopt new rules to guide the development of 5G technology, the Obama Administration is pledging support for research. More specifically, the White House announced a $400 million Advanced Wireless Research Initiative that will be led by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The project aims to build four “city-scale testing platforms” over the next 10 years. In the announcement, the administration reiterated that the US is the first to free up spectrum above 24 GHz for the high-speed networks that are said to be 100 times faster than the 4G we use today.
Yesterday morning, the FCC adopted a set of rules that will guide innovation and the development of 5G technology. Those guidelines aim to encourage new technology without letting unnecessary regulation hold up the process. They’re meant to serve as the foundation for companies and wireless carriers building devices and gear to run on the networks and those that will provide the wireless service. Both AT&T and Verizon have already announce testing plans, and there’s sure to be others to follow soon.
The NSF is pledging $50 million over the next 5 years as part of an $85 million total investment by the foundation and private-sector companies to build the testing platforms starting with the 2017 fiscal year. NSF is also committing $350 million over the next seven years that will take research from the concept phase to real-world testing at scale.
The National Science Foundation is working with Intel on a $6 million project to develop super fast wireless edge networks that can handle loads of data in less than a millisecond. NSF will also work with the Academy of Finland on a $4.7 million joint research push for wireless systems and networks, technology that also support the Internet of Things. The list of companies that are lending a hand with the federal 5G effort also includes AT&T, Verizon, Spring, T-Mobile, Samsung, HTC, Nokia and Qualcomm among others. Each will contribute research and testing know-how to the process as the technology is being developed.
Source: The White House
By David Murphy
This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.
After spending eight hours researching 24 top gaming mice, putting in 11 hours testing seven semifinalists and having five people use three finalists to play games for hours apiece, we’ve concluded that the Razer DeathAdder Chroma is the gaming mouse most people should get. It’s a slightly upgraded version of our previous favorite, the Razer DeathAdder Classic, and our panel testers (and other reviewers) preferred this mouse over the competition for its comfort, simplicity and highly customizable software.
Who should get this
Gaming mice give you more buttons to play with, more ways to customize what they do, better comfort, and flashier looks than a simple two-button mouse. They can also be more accurate than normal mice due to higher-quality optical sensors and settings that are optimized for gaming. If you already have a mouse you like, you don’t need to get a new one unless it offers a hardware feature you really want, such as more buttons, a new button layout, or special lighting.
How we picked and tested
Most of the models in our test group are wired mice. If you need a wireless gaming mouse, avoid those that can’t recharge while connected to your computer via USB. Photo: David Murphy
For this review, we surveyed 147 Wirecutter readers to get a sense of their gaming habits and mouse preferences. Everyone who responded used either a right-handed mouse or an ambidextrous mouse, and even the lefties moused with their right hand for gaming. Only 8 percent said they used a gaming mouse with more than 10 buttons, and only 3 percent told us they wanted that many buttons on their next gaming mouse. We focused on right-handed mice with fewer than 10 buttons and set a price limit of $100, because over half of our survey respondents said they’d pay between $51 and $75.
To come up with our list of seven semifinalists, we scoured reviews from trusted publications like PC Advisor and PC Gamer, and read gaming mice advice from Red Bull and the Overclock forums. We used and evaluated each semifinalist for a few hours before settling on our final three contenders.
We sent our finalists to four Wirecutter staffers and friends to evaluate. Our testers’ hand sizes varied from small to gigantic and they covered all three grip styles. We asked each person to use each mouse for up to four hours and to fill out a questionnaire about their experiences. We also used MouseTester to evaluate the three mice across a number of key characteristics, from tracking speed to sensitivity.
The DeathAdder Chroma’s simple, comfortable design feels great to use during extended gaming sessions. Photo: David Murphy
The Razer DeathAdder Chroma is the best gaming mouse for most people. It’s comfortable for a wide range of hand sizes and grips, and it has a simple, effective design. Razer’s Synapse software gives you lots of customization options, and it’s easier to use than other companies’ mouse software. The Chroma’s subtle lighting adds a playful touch that doesn’t overwhelm your eyes (or desk) with color. And it passed all of our MouseTester tests.
The Chroma is around 5.13 inches long, 1.5 inches high and 2.75 inches at its widest. At 3.2 ounces, it’s among the lightest mice we tested and it doesn’t allow you to increase its heft by adding weights. Razer places two supplemental buttons above the curve your thumb sits in and they’re well-sized and easy to tap. That isn’t a huge number of extra buttons for a gaming mouse, but as one of our panel testers described, “Me and the side buttons got along well. And two more side buttons are all I really need for most games.”
Almost all gaming mice come with customization software and Razer’s Synapse is the best of the suites we tested. It balances lots of customization with easy setup, even for newbies. It’s a lot simpler and more straightforward than the competition’s.
A runner-up with more buttons and adjustable weights
Logitech’s G502 Proteus Spectrum wasn’t as universally comfortable for our panel testers as our primary pick, Razer’s DeathAdder Chroma. Photo: David Murphy
The Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum is a great alternative if you need a mouse with a lot of buttons. It has twice as many as the DeathAdder Chroma and you can customize their actions using Logitech’s Gaming Software, which is a little more confusing than Razer’s Synapse software.
Among our panel testers, this mouse’s design was more polarizing than that of Razer’s DeathAdder Chroma: Some found it very comfortable to use and praised the features that it offers and our primary pick lacks, such as its built-in thumb rest and adjustable weights, and others thought this mouse looked strange (like “a Christopher Nolan–era Bat Tank”) and felt “odder” than our primary pick.
Care and maintenance
If your mouse gets dirty — which can affect its responsiveness and movement accuracy (and make you think your mouse is broken when it isn’t) — blast any dust or hair out of the sensor with some compressed air. (Do it from a distance so you don’t harm the sensor.) You could also clean the sensor, as well as your mouse’s dirty, rubber feet, with some rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip. Use a little water or rubbing alcohol to clean the top of the mouse, but let it dry fully before you plug it in and start using it again. If you’re having issues with your mouse’s buttons, contact the manufacturer for warranty service.
This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.
The Pokemon Go juggernaut continues its infestation of everyday services. Yelp has added a PokéStop filter to its search functions so you can make sure you’re eating or shopping near one of the item-dropping locations.
The “PokéStop Nearby” option prominently appears on the top bar of Yelp’s website, and alongside selectable filters like “Wheelchair Accessible” and “Offers Military Discount” on the mobile app. But it doesn’t look like Yelp is plugging into studio Niantic’s game data to scrape locations for the item-dropping spots. Users are reporting that the service asks them if one is near when they review a business.
So @yelp now asks if there is a PokeStop nearby where you are leaving a review. pic.twitter.com/a3B2DGsnAS
— Joshua A. Brueckner (@jabrueckner) July 15, 2016
Source: The Daily Dot
Federal authorities have just released a set of recommended guidelines to define the minimum technical requirements that law enforcement agencies expect from smart guns. The proposed baseline specs cover just pistols for now, and are open for public input from now till September 13.
The biggest difference that the proposed smart gun would have from regular firearms is the addition of a so-called “security device.” This is designed to prevent unauthorized use by disabling the firing system unless when in control of identified users, and has to meet an exhaustive list of requirements (at least, in this draft proposal).
The security device is to be a permanent part of the pistol, but can include externally worn items such as rings, wristbands or tokens. More than one person can be programmed to operate the gun, and the security device must not alter the normal operation of grasping and firing the pistol, nor increase the time needed to grab, draw from a holster and fire the weapon.
If electromagnetic interference may affect the security device, countermeasure detection tech must also be installed to allow the user to fire the gun “when an attempt to block the authorization process is detected.”
The security device must covertly inform the operator when the gun is ready to fire, and if it uses batteries, the batteries may be rechargeable, but must be replaceable. And if power is running low, the security device must warn the user with sufficient time to safely take action. Finally, if the security device malfunctions, it must default to a state to allow the pistol to fire, and should be designed to be easy to reset or disengage in such cases.
Although the proposed requirements seem pretty comprehensive, plenty of loopholes could arise, especially in case of interference or malfunction. This is why the public input stage is important, and the NIJ is soliciting input from people ranging from advocates and academics to entrepreneurs.
In August, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) will hold a two-day “convening of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies” to review and discuss the proposed specs. After that, the Department of Justic and Department of Homeland Security will revise the guidelines before finalizing the document for publication.
After publication, the specs are meant to provide guidance to the private industry for manufacturers to develop weapons that meet law enforcers’ needs. The document is not a mandate that individuals or law enforcement agencies must use the new technology when it’s developed. Still, it’s nice to see the authorities make strides towards President Obama’s goal of developing advanced gun safety technology.
Google is no stranger to lending a hand with voter registration, and ahead of the November election in the US, the company is helping once again. Starting Monday, when you search “register to vote,” the results will includes details on the process, what’s required and the deadline to complete the sign-up. Each state is different, so if you need to browse the guidelines for another location, there’s a handy drop-down that allows you to make that change. Google confirmed to Engadget that the tool will be available at the start of next week.
With the upcoming Democratic and Republican National Conventions, Google will provide information on those events as well. When you search for either party’s convention, you’ll get a schedule of the proceedings, nominee details, summary of the event itself, list of speakers and a collection of related social media posts and YouTube’s livestream videos. Monday marks the start of the RNC (July 18th), a four-day lineup of speakers and platform discussions that culminates with the formal nomination of a presidential candidate on Thursday in Cleveland. The DNC follows a similar agenda the next week in Philadelphia, running July 25th through the 28th. There are a number of ways to watch both, including streams on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and more.
Via: The Verge
If you fell in love with Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ gorgeous melody of practical sets and VFX, then good news: Rogue One seems to be following in its footsteps. A new sizzle reel released at Star Wars: Celebration looks behind the camera to highlight the film’s use of practical effects, props and stunts. It’s nearly three minutes of explosions, sets on moving hydraulics, fantastic creature costumes and gorgeous shooting locations.
The short video lauds the use physical sets, the creative doors opened by levering the advantages of each specific location and the realism achieved by having the actors perform stunts in a fully realized world, rather than just on a green screen. Director Gareth Edwards expanded upon the method at the film’s Celebration panel — explaining how shooting in the Maldives and at London’s Canery Wharf station let the crew depict a fantastic, futuristic world without relying exclusively on digital effects.
The reel may not have been the trailer we expected to come out of the convention, but it’s still an awesome look at how the film is shaping up. However Star Wars’ first standalone film turns out, at least we know it’s going to look gorgeous.
Source: YouTube (1), (2)
Excited to see “Star Trek Beyond” next week? Me too. And nothing puts you in a Star Trek mood like more Star Trek.
Of course, if you’re anything like me, you’ve seen all the previous movies more times than you care to count. So why not venture beyond the films (sorry) and stock up on a some Trek audiobooks for your next long car ride, commute or dog walk?
Believe it or not, you can do that for free. All you need is a library card — and a library that has partnered with Hoopla. This digital-media service allows you to check out movies, e-books, albums and, you guessed it, audiobooks — and it recently put together a collection of Star Trek titles in honor of the TV show’s 50th anniversary.
Your first step is to check and see if your library does indeed offer Hoopla. You can always drop by and ask the librarian, of course, but in most cases you can just visit the library’s website and look for the digital media section.
Alternately, head straight to Hoopla’s registration page, where you’ll need to create an account anyway. It will display libraries in your area — including yours, hopefully. But if yours isn’t listed, try clicking one that’s nearby. In my neck of the woods (metro Detroit), for example, my library card is good across a whole network of libraries, and that’s how I was able to get signed up.
If your library isn’t listed, try choosing one that’s nearby. It might be in the same network and therefore might let you into Hoopla!
Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET
(Still striking out? Your library may be partnered with a different digital-media service, such as OverDrive or OneClickDigital. I can’t say for sure if they’ll have Star Trek audiobooks, but it’s worth a look!)
Once you’re signed up, grab the Hoopla Digital app (Android | iOS). Sign into your newly created account, then search for Trek titles.
Audiobooks can be borrowed for 21 days, and you can stream them to your mobile device or download them for offline listening. Your library dictates the number of items you can check out per month.
Hoopla’s 50th-anniversary collection contains some 60 “Star Trek” audiobooks, everything from original novels spanning the varies TV series to novelizations of some of the earlier movies. You’ll also find William Shatner’s “Star Trek Memories” and “Star Trek Movie Memories,” two must-listen titles for any true Trekkie — Shatner himself narrates both.
Listen long and prosper, fellow nerds.