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Tokyo taxi firm to launch driverless fleet for 2020 Olympics

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What is clear is that a huge global event can focus the minds of those developing such technology, with Tokyo-based robotics outfit ZMP and local taxi firm Hinomaru Kotsu determined to have a robot taxi service up and running in time for the Japan-hosted Olympics in 2020. Hinomaru inked a deal with ZMP last year, and the partnership is already producing results.



Earlier this week the team debuted its autonomous taxi service for paying passengers as part of a trial set to run for several weeks.

A demonstration in front of the media showed a young family boarding the robot minivan for a three-mile ride along some busy Tokyo streets. Passengers access the taxi using a smartphone and a QR code, and once everyone’s inside, a quick tap on a touchscreen begins the journey.

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Footage shows the autonomous cab appearing to cope comfortably with the road conditions, though had the technology experienced any difficulties, a safety driver was on hand to take over.

Speaking to a TV crew after the ride, one of the passengers noted that a human-driven vehicle perceived to be “behaving strangely” prompted the safety driver to manually guide the robot car away from potential danger.

The self-driving taxi is making eight trips a day between two destinations in the city, each journey costing riders about $14. More road tests are planned for later this year once the results of the current trial have been fully assessed.

Hinomaru wants to have its service ready in time for the Olympics, which starts two years from now. Besides transporting sports fans around the sprawling city, the plan is to use the cars to run athletes between hotels and venues, too.

ZMP and Hinomaru say its robot taxi is the first in the world to accept paying passengers, though Lyft and Aptiv may have a word to say about that. The ridesharing firm has been working with tech firm Aptiv to develop its own robot taxi, and began taking fare-paying passengers in Las Vegas a couple of months back.

Robot taxi services have emerged as the main focus for many companies currently developing the technology, with Toyota, for example, this week announcing a $500 million investment in Uber’s autonomous-vehicle development. Japanese car giant Nissan is also working on developing a driverless vehicle that it wants to have ready in time for Tokyo 2020 as part of a taxi service.

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Important Steps to follow in case of vehicle accidents

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It’s important to know and understand how to prevent motor vehicle accidents. However, if the worst happens, would you know what to do? This equally important aspect of understanding road safety is often overlooked.

Thankfully, not all car accidents are fatal. And whatever the degree of damage, while it may not lessen the shock of a collision, it can ease the frustration of both parties if they know what steps to follow to make insurance claims easier.



Know the law

Section 61 of the National Road Traffic Act of 1996 states that in the event of an accident, where: a person or an animal was killed or injured, or any property like a vehicle was damaged, certain steps must be taken in line with the law.

The driver must:

    • Stop the vehicle and ascertain if there are any injuries;
    • Offer the assistance to injured persons;
    • Ascertain the nature and extent of damage sustained;
    • Request the name, address, vehicle registration and driver’s licence details, as well as the identity number of the other party; and
    • Report the accident to the relevant police station within 24 hours.

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Credible evidence

According to the act, there are important other rules that must also be observed. The law further specifies that the driver may not take any intoxicating liquor or drug that has a narcotic effect, unless he or she has reported the accident to a police officer

Moreover, no person may remove any vehicle involved in an accident – in which another person was killed or injured – from the position in which it came to rest, until a traffic officer has given permission for it to be removed.

Only if the accident causes total obstruction of a public road can the vehicle be moved, and only after its position has been clearly marked on the surface of the roadway.

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Possible pitfalls

You should also take pictures of the accident scene.

Further penalties during the claim process could come due to driving under the influence of alcohol, without a valid driver’s license for the vehicle being operated, driving an unlicensed or unroadworthy vehicle and not paying your insurance premium, says Tshifularo.

Tshifularo also cautions that you should not let a tow-truck driver coerce you into towing your car without making sure that it is a tow truck authorised by your insurance company.

“Otherwise you could be liable for the costs and have to spend a lot of time and energy trying to track your vehicle down.”

“After an accident, it’s very important to stay calm and rational.

“Arguing over whose fault the accident was or panicking is not going to help the situation. Instead, take charge and follow the procedure in as calm a manner as possible,” Tshifularo says.

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(NHTSA) proposes to allow glare-free headlights on vehicles sold in the U.S.

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The technology in the so-called “matrix LEDs” consists of a grid of individually controllable lights. When sensors detect an object in front of the vehicle, the specific LEDs that would project light directly on the object shut down while the rest stay on.

At CES 2018, German lighting company Osram introduced the Evivyos adaptive headlight comprising 1,024 LEDs, each of which can be turned on or off.

“The idea of this is almost like an always-on high beam,” Osram CEO engineer Matthew Zajac explained to Digital Trends at CES. “You adapt your beam to traffic,” Zajac continued.

As seen in the image below from Osram, the headlights would illuminate the lower body of pedestrians and vehicles, but the LED that would shine in people’s eyes would shut down.

nhtsa self dimming matrix headlights proposal eviyos pixel light osram opto semiconductors

Toyota originally petitioned the NHTSA in 2016 to give manufacturers the option to equip vehicles with adaptive driving beam systems. In presenting the proposed rule change, the feds gave Toyota the nod.

“NHTSA has granted Toyota’s petition and proposes to establish appropriate performance requirements to ensure the safe introduction of adaptive driving beam headlighting systems if equipped on newly manufactured vehicles,” the proposal states.

The NHTSA proposal requires ADB systems meet standards for visibility and glare prevention. In addition to allowing matrix LED headlights and setting standards for high beam and low beam visibility and glare, the proposal also includes building and equipping a test track with laboratory-tested devices to measure the performance standards.

The NHTSA is asking for comments on the proposal. You can submit comments online, by mail, hand delivery, courier, or fax. The proposal includes complete instructions for comments. All comments need to be submitted in time for the NHTSA to receive them by December 11, 2018.

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