Feeds

Speeding, driverless Nissan finally stopped by US bombers

'Strap-on' robotic auto-driver gear goes live

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Vid Conversion kits have been developed which can upgrade any normal car for autonomous driverless operation. Video is now available from such a car, driving without human input in the Nevada desert, showing fruitless attempts by US navy bombers to destroy the self-directed machine.

The vid comes courtesy of Kairos Autonomi, the Utah company which makes the "Pronto4" robo-car conversion kit. Rather than one of their automated drivers snapping the shackles of human control and having to be destroyed by the military, however, the bombing was actually a training exercise for US Navy jet pilots. It took place at the end of January at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada, and was announced by Kairos last week.

The bombs being dropped around the speeding car are inert training rounds rather than live 500 or thousand-pounders. But they are smart laser-guided ones, showing the difficulty that normal smartbombs have scoring direct hits on moving targets. The car was stopped on the eighth try, the nearby impact of the inert bomb stalling the engine.

According to Kairos, the car is a Nissan Altima and converting it to unmanned driverless operation took less than four hours using the Pronto4 kit, which the firm refers to as a "strap-on autonomy system". The company says that any vehicle you like can be fitted out with a strap-on robo driver and then perform such tasks as "perimeter patrol", convoy leading/following" or even "covert operations". The car, van, lorry or whatever is then "optionally manned".

A US Humvee's controls fitted with the Pronto4 autonomous driver kit

Driver strictly optional.

Kairos believe that the robo strap-on gear would be ideal for driving unmanned supply trucks through the minefields and roadside bombs of Iraq or Afghanistan, or other dangerous military applications. They say it can be remotely "tele-operated" using a video feed, or follow a pre-generated course on its own. Pronto4-pimped cars competed in the last DARPA robocar event, apparently.

The machine can cope with "city, highway and off-road" according to the product sheet (pdf), acting as an autopilot for a human driver if required: you just tap the brake to take manual control. Kairos, like many others, are literally having no truck with Vista - the controlling computer is a Core 2 Duo, 1 gig RAM Windows XP box.

The only thing the Pronto4 doesn't seem able to do is cope with traffic. Once it can do that, it would seem that the long-anticipated day when we can simply set our cars to take us wherever we want and then sit back for a snooze, a beer or a bit of TV is finally at hand. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.