Author Archives: shoujunzhang


First of all, thank you for following us for our last 20 updates. It’s time for us to make a small conclusion.

In our blog, we introduced the concept of the autonomous vehicles, gave our own and experts’ opinions on auto vehicles, and we try to analyze from both technology and non-technology point of view.

Personally speaking, I think this technology is quite feasible and it will surely be on the market in the next 15 or 20 years. But it may only be allowed to be used in some countries. (Canada for example, or North Europe. Because these countries don’t have the traffic jam and most of the roads are not so busy).

To be widely used and accepted both economically and ethically around the whole world, I think it is still a long way to go.

How do you think about autonomous vehicles?

We kindly ask your conclusions about autonomous vehicles.


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The future after the future- more interesting ideas about future transportation

Today let’s have some fun and I will give you an overview of all the great ideas about the future transportation.

  1. The SkyTran

According to Wikipedia, SkyTran is “Lightweight two-passenger vehicles suspended from elevated passive magnetic levitation tracks are expected to achieve the equivalent of over 200 miles per US gallon (240 mpg-imp; 1.2 L/100 km) fuel economy at 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) or faster.”


Its construction is much cheaper than the light rail project and can be constructed without totally changing the environment of the city, which gives it a very high feasibility.

2. Teleporter
This looks more Sci-Fi or black magic. This solution offers a way to travel from point A to point B with 0 second! The technology behind it is only theory. By knowing all the states of the particles, and we can change states of the other particles in another place, so you seem to just suddenly go to another place.

I don’t think we will have the chance to experience this technology in our lifetime. If you are interested into the quantum physics, have a look at this one!

3. Capsules travel
Traveling with barely no friction!



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How about our privacy

It will be really good for the engineers to know exactly about all the information of all the vehicles on the road so the autonomous vehicles can drive much safer and much energy efficient. But what kind of security level should this information be.

Remind that when there are autonomous vehicles, the smart technology in the vehicle will not only have the information of the vehicle parameters only. Information like which websites you were surfing when you drive, how many tickets you got from the policeman for the last month,what kind of the stores you shopped, the clubs and the restaurants you went can all be gathered from your vehicle. This information from your vehicles is very valuable to the advertising companies. You will receive more specific ads as a results. Good or bad, I can’t say.

If you want cheat your wife and hook up with hot girls, take care of your vehicles! Your wife will know that.

Also, what if hackers hack into your vehicle control system? This kind of murder is even hard for Sherlock.



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Watch out these careless drivers

For now, the vehicles are still the most dangerous way to travel, when compared to the train and airplane. There are always some drivers they are not really reliable. Maybe they are just careless, they are drunk or just because they are not really good at driving. If you meet the emergency situations, an experienced driver may take some special actions to avoid accident. But these things are too “strange” and difficult to handle because of the unpredictability of these careless drivers.

So in conclusion, if you want to have the autonomous vehicles and human driving vehicles together on the road, the human drivers must also change a little bit and reach a higher level.
That’s another challenge may make the driver license harder to get.

1 Comment

by | February 16, 2014 · 1:13 pm

Road condition and autonomous vehicles

Even if the technology and law are all ok for the autonomous vehicles, the complex road condition can still be a problem. When it’s icy on the road, the vehicle may have some difficulties detecting these icy areas. The same goes for the sudden changes of the road. For example, the storm causes trees on the road, or traffic accident just happened in the front. So information must be updated as soon as possible.

Also because the driver may be sleeping and the computer is driving the vehicle, it may be hard to have the gesture communication. For example, if you are riding your bicycle, and point your hand at left side showing you are going to turn left. The autonomous vehicles are not able to recognize your gestures (That’s too challenge for the computer). It’s not also feasible for the policeman to use gesture to ask the driver to pull over.


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How exactly can the autonomous drive influence our daily lives?

  1. Environmental friendly.

Autonomous vehicle can optimize the control signal so that the energy consumption is minimum, that’s just what we do in our thesis project.

  1. Better driving comfort

The autonomous vehicle can even make turns better than an experienced driver can do.

  1. Elimination of redundant passengers – If you are going to the airport, you don’t need to let your friend to drive you there and he drives back himself.(1) :from wikipedia
  2. Reduction in the need for traffic police (1) :from wikipedia
  3. Disable/old people can easily “drive” a car.
  4. You can free you hand and have a relaxing journey.
  5. Traffic jam can be avoid or at least improved by communication between vehilcles.
  6. “Perhaps most radically, personal cars could potentially be used like taxis, dropping their owners off at a location, driving home, and then picking them up again when called”(2)


But there is something which is not so perfect.

Do you think the driving skill of the future people who use the autonomous vehicle will be better? Perhaps not. Maybe vehicle driving will become something like a hobby- like some people enjoying riding the single wheel bicycle. Relying too much on the technology is a good thing a bad thing, that’s a question. According to the movie “WALL·E”, the future people are all really fat and are taken care by the machines- maybe things like that will happen, who knows?


Also an autonomous vehicle is under risk of system breakdown. The future murder can be that vehicle computer system is contaminated by the virus. If there are backdoors in the software which can be accessed by the hacker, we are in danger!





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philosophy point of view to see the autonomous vehicle- more about the ethics

There are more things to discuss once we go the ethics area. From the philosophy point of view, the autonomous vehicle becomes more interesting.First I will list this questions

  • Non-identity problem

This problems in fact is everywhere. According to the definition of Stanford encyclopedia of Philosophy  “If a person’s existence is unavoidably flawed, then the agent’s only alternatives to bringing that person into the flawed existence are to bring no one into existence at all or to bring a different person – a nonidentical but better off person – into existence in place of the person whose existence is flawed. “(1)

It actually means that every change you made may lead to the nonexistence of the future person. Choosing an autonomous vehicle may cause you marry a different women and have a different children as you should have. That is not fair to your children who should have been born in the situation that you are driving a normal car.

According to wikipedia, the definition is “There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. Unfortunately, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. “(2)

Imagine that your vehicle meet this situation: You have to choose hit on 5 person on the narrow road or hit the tree side by the road- this action may kill yourself but will definitely save 5 lives. There is no option 3.How should the computer choose? It’s even a hard problem for a human, can a computer give us a satisfactory answer to that?

  • buttery effect

What if you use the autonomous vehicle and avoid hitting on the person. But 10 years later, this person becomes another  Hitler? The chain effect is not predictable.

(But personally, I extremely dislike the Non-identity problem. In this logic, everything we do may be “wrong” because this will influence the future and may let you have a different child. Considering this problem is nonsense. I really don’t know why philosophy guys are interested into this problem. Same for the butterfly effect.I really think the trolley problem is quite important.)




(3)This web site give me a lot of ideas to write this blog


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