Essay about driving while being distracted - effects of bullying essay









essay about driving while being distracted

essay about driving while being distractedEssay about driving while being distracted -As a commercial for the Dodge Charger put it two years ago, “Hands-free driving, cars that park themselves, an unmanned car driven by a search-engine company? It ends with robots harvesting our bodies for energy.” Levandowski understands the sentiment.Ninety-eight per cent of driving is just following the dotted line.Ernst Dickmanns’s car had gone similar distances on the Autobahn, but always with a driver in the seat to take over in the tricky stretches. “Today, we could do it in a few hours,” Thrun told me.In rush-hour traffic, it can take two hours, but Levandowski doesn’t mind. While other drivers are gawking at him, he is observing them: recording their maneuvers in his car’s sensor logs, analyzing traffic flow, and flagging any problems for future review. They talk on the phone and run red lights, signal to the left and turn to the right.The trick, as in any educational system, is to combine the two in proper measure.It may confuse the shadow of a tree for the edge of the road, or reflected headlights for lane markers.He gradually scraped together thirty thousand dollars from Raytheon, Advanced Micro Devices, and others. modules, computers, roll bars, and an electric motor to turn the wheel. The videos of their early test runs, edited together, play like a jittery reel from “The Benny Hill Show”: bike takes off, engineers jump up and down, bike falls over—more than six hundred times in a row.A helicopter later found it beached on an embankment, wreathed in smoke, its back wheels spinning so furiously that they’d burst into flame. Three months later, the agency announced a second Grand Challenge for the following October, doubling the prize money to two million dollars.It’s the other two per cent that matters.“There was no way, before 2000, to make something interesting,” the roboticist Sebastian Thrun told me.Instead of smooth curves and long straightaways, it had rocky climbs and hairpin turns; instead of road signs and lane lines, G. She’d seen a notice for the race when it was announced online, in 2002, and recalled that her son used to play with remote-control cars as a boy, crashing them into things on his bedroom floor. Levandowski was now a student at Berkeley, in the industrial-engineering department. Tasked with building a machine that could shoot the most Ping-Pong balls into a tube, the students came up with dozens of ingenious contraptions.When the bike tipped to one side, Krasnov had it steer ever so slightly in the same direction.It’s like a baby in a stroller, deducing the world from the faces and storefronts that flicker by. “Neural networks are like black boxes,” Pomerleau says.Its suburbs and skyscrapers were laced together by superhighways full of radio-guided cars. They can weave through tight traffic and anticipate danger, gauge distance, direction, pace, and momentum. “Cars like this one may be on the nation’s roads by the year 2000! General Motors pioneered the first approach in the late nineteen-fifties.Of the ten million accidents that Americans are in every year, nine and a half million are their own damn fault.When Levandowski went to the Berkeley faculty with his idea, the reaction was, at best, bemused disbelief.And yet, like Levandowski, he has a gift for seeing things through a machine’s eyes—for intuiting the logic by which it might apprehend the world.The only tiresome part is when there’s roadwork or an accident ahead and the Lexus insists that he take the wheel.Both cars are heading south on Highway 880 in Oakland, going more than seventy miles an hour, yet the man takes his time. It looks a little like an ice-cream truck, lightly weaponized for inner-city work.When the gun went off, the bike sputtered forward, rolled three feet, and fell over.“That was a dark day,” Levandowski says. But the underlying issue was always the same: as Joshua Davis later wrote in , the robots just weren’t smart enough.essay about driving while being distractedThe instant more variables were added—a pedestrian, say, or a traffic cop—their programming faltered.This created centrifugal acceleration that pulled the bike upright again.It may decide that a bag floating across a road is a solid object and swerve to avoid it.They have blind spots, leg cramps, seizures, and heart attacks.Too much rote learning can make for a plodding machine.It wasn’t something you could buy at Radio Shack.” Thrun, who is forty-six, is the founder of the Google Car project.Radar was a device on a hilltop that cost two hundred million dollars.By the time he puts his hands back on the wheel and glances up at the road, half a minute has passed. He leaves his house in Berkeley at around eight o’clock, waves goodbye to his fiancée and their son, and drives to his office in Mountain View, forty-three miles away.Americans drive nearly three trillion miles a year, I was told by Ron Medford, a former deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who now works for Google. Its Firebird III concept car—shaped like a jet fighter, with titanium tail fins and a glass-bubble cockpit—was designed to run on a test track embedded with an electrical cable, like the slot on a toy speedway.“That makes people—then sent out to test them by trial and error.Someday soon, he believes, a self-driving car will save your life.The cars in the Grand Challenge would be empty, and the road would be rough: from Barstow, California, to Primm, Nevada. “But at the time it felt like going to the moon in sneakers.”Levandowski first heard about it from his mother.He holds his phone up to the window with both hands until the car is framed just so. It’s surmounted by a spinning laser turret and knobbed with cameras, radar, antennas, and G. Levandowski used to tell people that the car was designed to chase tornadoes or to track mosquitoes, or that he belonged to an élite team of ghost hunters.When he wasn’t studying or rowing crew or winning Lego competitions, he was casting about for cool new shit to build—for a profit, if possible. Until I can move to a stateroom on a 747, I want to live like this.’ ”’s rules were vague on the subject of vehicles: anything that could drive itself would do. He would build the world’s first autonomous motorcycle. (Miller says that it came to them in a hot tub in Tahoe, which sounds about right.) Good engineering is all about gaming the system, Levandowski says—about sidestepping obstacles rather than trying to run over them. The winner, though, was infuriatingly simple: it had a mechanical arm reach over, drop a ball into the tube, then cover it up so that no others could get in. The motorcycle could be like that, Levandowski thought: quicker off the mark than a car and more maneuverable.When he showed them to me one night at his house, his face wore a crooked grin, like a father watching his son strike out in Little League. Engineers at Berkeley later went a step further: they spiked the track with magnets, alternating their polarity in binary patterns to send messages to the car—“Slow down, sharp curve ahead.” Systems like these were fairly simple and reliable, but they had a chicken-and-egg problem.Over the next two years, he made more than two hundred cold calls to potential sponsors.He went on to build robots that explored mines in Virginia, guided visitors through the Smithsonian, and chatted with patients at a nursing home. Funding for private research in the field had dried up by then.A case in point: The driver in the lane to my right.He’d put up a wall in his living room and was sleeping on a couch in one half, next to a big server tower that he’d built. It needs a rider to balance it—or else a complex, computer-controlled system of shafts and motors to adjust its position every hundredth of a second.He’s twisted halfway around in his seat, taking a picture of the Lexus that I’m riding in with an engineer named Anthony Levandowski. essay about driving while being distracted It’s often the fastest way for a computer to learn a complex behavior, but it has its drawbacks.“I remember, when we were in college, we were at his house one day, and he told me that he’d rented out his bedroom. Also, it was a good way to get back at his mother, who’d never let him ride motorcycles as a kid. “I’ll just make one that rides itself.”The flaw in this plan was obvious: a motorcycle can’t stand up on its own.From 1957: A sedan cruises down a highway, guided by circuits in the road, while a family plays dominoes inside. To be useful, they had to be built on a large scale; to be built on a large scale, they had to be useful.In the meantime, he went about poaching the faculty’s graduate students. His mad enthusiasm for the project was matched only by his technical grasp of its challenges—and his willingness to go to any lengths to meet them. They’d begun with a Yamaha dirt bike, made for a child, and stripped it down to its skeleton. “It’s like one of my colleagues once said: ‘You don’t understand, Charlie, this is robotics.He comes by these impulses honestly: his mother is a French diplomat, his father an American businessman.It belongs to the gleaming, chrome-plated age of jet packs and rocket ships, transporter beams and cities beneath the sea, of a predicted future still well beyond our technology. Skyscrapers and superhighways made the deadline, but driverless cars still putter along in prototype.It was on the open, sandy trails that the cars tended to go crazy.“When we started, the car was going about two to four miles an hour along a path through a park—you could ride a tricycle faster,” Pomerleau told me.The roughest roads in the Grand Challenge were often the easiest to navigate, because they had clear paths and well-defined shoulders.“The Wright Brothers era is over,” Levandowski assured me, as the Lexus took us across the Dumbarton Bridge. And we’re trying to make it as robust and reliable as a 747.”Not everyone finds this prospect appealing.He just has more faith in robots than most of us do.Even the winner, Carnegie Mellon, earned at best a Pyrrhic victory.They nod off at the wheel, wrestle with maps, fiddle with knobs, have marital spats, take the curve too late, take the curve too hard, spill coffee in their laps, and flip over their cars.“Anthony is probably the most creative undergraduate I’ve encountered in twenty years,” he told me.As for the Ghost Rider, it managed to beat out more than ninety cars in the qualifying round—a mile-and-a-half obstacle course on the California Speedway in Fontana. On the day of the Grand Challenge, standing at the starting line in Barstow, half delirious with adrenaline and fatigue, Levandowski forgot to turn on the stability program. To win, the teams would have to address a daunting list of failures and shortcomings, from fried hard drives to faulty satellite equipment.“But this was a very great stretch.”Levandowski was unfazed.Too much experiential learning can make for blind spots and caprice.Ohio State’s six-wheel, thirty-thousand-pound Terra Max was brought up short by some bushes; Caltech’s Chevy Tahoe crashed into a fence.It’s no wonder that we have thirty-two thousand fatalities along the way, he said. Levandowski keeps a collection of vintage illustrations and newsreels on his laptop, just to remind him of all the failed schemes and fizzled technologies of the past. As the car passed over the cable, a receiver in its front end picked up a radio signal and followed it around the curve.A self-taught car can come to some strange conclusions. essay about driving while being distracted As he drove around Pittsburgh, they kept track of his driving decisions, gathering statistics and formulating their own rules of the road.Although Levandowski spent most of his childhood in Brussels, his English has no accent aside from a certain absence of inflection—the bright, electric chatter of a processor in overdrive. “I’m a robot.”What separates Levandowski from the nerds I knew is this: his wacky ideas tend to come true. As a freshman at Berkeley, he launched an intranet service out of his basement that earned him fifty thousand dollars a year.A wunderkind from the west German city of Solingen, he programmed his first driving simulator at the age of twelve.“The sensors weren’t there, the computers weren’t there, and the mapping wasn’t there.They’d thought that stability was a complex, nonlinear problem, but it turned out to be fairly simple.Its robotic Humvee, Sandstorm, drove just seven and a half miles before careering off course.He wears black frame glasses and oversized neon sneakers, has a long, loping stride—he’s six feet seven—and is given to excitable talk on fantastical themes. He wants to fix the world and make a fortune doing it.“By the end, it was going fifty-five miles per hour on highways.” In 1996, the car steered itself from Washington, D.They rubberneck, hotdog, and take pity on turtles, cause fender benders, pileups, and head-on collisions.Slender and tan, with clear blue eyes and a smooth, seemingly boneless gait, he looks as if he just stepped off a dance floor in Ibiza.In 1939, at the World’s Fair in New York, visitors stood in lines up to two miles long to see the General Motors Futurama exhibit. Human beings, as it turns out, aren’t easy to improve upon.They drink too much beer and plow into trees or veer into traffic as they swat at their kids.“People think that we’re going to pry the steering wheel from their cold, dead hands,” he told me, but they have it exactly wrong.A chime sounds, pleasant yet insistent, then a warning appears on his dashboard screen: “In one mile, prepare to resume manual control.”Levandowski is an engineer at Google X, the company’s semi-secret lab for experimental technology.By doing this over and over, tracing tiny S-curves as it went, the motorcycle could hold to a straight line.In the nineteen-eighties, a German engineer named Ernst Dickmanns, at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, equipped a Mercedes van with video cameras and processors, then programmed it to follow lane lines. By 1995, Dickmanns’s car was able to drive on the Autobahn from Munich to Odense, Denmark, going up to a hundred miles at a stretch without assistance. The highways and test tracks they navigated were strictly controlled environments.Then he snaps the picture, checks it onscreen, and taps out a lengthy text message with his thumbs. But nowadays the vehicle is clearly marked: “Self-Driving Car.”Every week for the past year and a half, Levandowski has taken the Lexus on the same slightly surreal commute.“The demonstrations I saw mostly ended in crashes and breakdowns in the first half mile,” he told me.They needed sensors to guide them, computers to steer them, digital maps to follow. Smart cars were just clever enough to get drivers into trouble.As a sophomore, he won a national robotics competition with a machine made out of Legos that could sort Monopoly money—a fair analogy for what he’s been doing for Google lately. essay about driving while being distracted Ernst Dickmanns’s car had gone similar distances on the Autobahn, but always with a driver in the seat to take over in the tricky stretches. “Today, we could do it in a few hours,” Thrun told me. essay about driving while being distracted

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