The major announcements of IDF have come and gone. The Nehalem demos and Silverthorne were exactly what IDF is known for, but the show does go on after the keynotes and today's coverage gives you a taste of exactly that.

Robot Car

We ran into Stanford's Robot Car to be used in the DARPA Urban Challenge this November:

The Robot Car is entirely autonomous, it will drive itself and avoid any and all obstacles along the way in an urban setting. All of the gadgetry on the top and sides of the car are laser sensors that map the car's environment, so that it can avoid accidents.

The laser sensors on the sides of the car will identify yellow/white lines on the road to make sure the car stays within its lane on the road.

The car's sensors mapping out its environment in real-time on the LCD screen above

All of the data is fed into the car's two quad-core servers, analyzed, processed and translated to inputs to the car's steering, braking and acceleration systems.

The servers are cooled using the car's own air conditioning system via a large pipe running from the back seat to the trunk where the servers are stored.

The fastest they've had the car up to is around 71mph, but it's expected to get up into the 30s during the Urban Challenge.



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  • sprockkets - Thursday, September 20, 2007 - link

    Hey, I know it doesn't run windows, but how come on the picture where it says the firefox session closed improperly, that window clearly looks like an XP dialog box, and the popup msg in the bottome right hand corner about the battery does too. I know of some desktops for Linux that mimick win95, but what desktop does it use? Reply
  • stmok - Saturday, September 22, 2007 - link

    Have you used Linux? :)

    The distro being used has KDE for the desktop environment, and you can easily configure it to behave like Windows if you wish. ASUS customised this disto (I'm guessing its Xandros) for their needs and target market.

    Its so flexible that you can change whatever you desire on it! You can make it look and feel like XP, Vista, OSX, etc. People wouldn't know.

    Its perfect for when you encounter situations where people want to try something different, but don't want to change their computing habits too much. (In this case, people who have used Windows for a while shouldn't have too much of a trouble using this.)
  • strikeback03 - Friday, September 21, 2007 - link

    also look at the maximize/minimize/close buttons in OpenOffice, a very XP looking skin Reply
  • KingofFah - Thursday, September 20, 2007 - link

    What would happen if a cop attempted to pull the car over? Would it just drive away and avoid the cop to avoid a collision? Reply
  • bespoke - Thursday, September 20, 2007 - link

    Uh, let's just ignore the technology capital of the world - they don't need WiMAX. But Toledo does! And don't forget Lansing!

  • strikeback03 - Thursday, September 20, 2007 - link

    Wow, Red Bull sponsors everything. Who knew energy drinks were so profitable. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, September 20, 2007 - link

    We've had WiMax here in Pahrump Nevada now for close to a year, and it is not terrible, but severly lacking comparred to wired cables internet.

    The main problem is that the omni dirrectional on the towers from AT&T only can handle 71Mbit/s total bandwidth, and there are only three towers servicing our town of roughly 30,000 people. So, if you say have maybe a 10% population usage of this service(3,000 people), roughly 1,000 per tower all sharing 71Mbit/s . . . I am sure you can see the implecations here.

    Anyhow, when our service first started, it blew away our previous 802.11g connection with a local provider by peaking well over 300KB/s down. Now, typical downs are roughly 70KB/s or less. Better than dial up, but still terrible for broadband. This technology has a ways to go before it'll match even the shyte DSL connection I had 5 years ago, which gave me a steady 181KB/s downs easy. Oh, and the latency can be horrific, but I suspect this has to do with a multitude of users all hammering the same omni at the same time.

    One of the cool things about this technoloy, is that it does not require LoS for a decent connection, and I even setup one of these for a neighbor that had the antenna on the opposite side of his house from the connecting tower, and he was still getting ~280KB/s transers. Of course, this was before AT&T saturated its antennas . . . Just a FYI, the tower we connect to is ~8 miles out.
  • AlexWade - Thursday, September 20, 2007 - link

    WiMax seems to have potential. But potential alone won't make a product successful. And if Sprint gets is the main crux behind WiMax, it won't succeed in the US. Sprint can't do 1G right, much less anything beyond it. Nextel was a solid service until Sprint bought them, now every Nextel I call, it goes to voice mail no matter what. And if you need help, a wall is more helpful. My dad called Sprint to get their mailing address to pay a bill. I heard him go through 4 reps, each asking why he wanted the mailing address and none willing to give it.

    Who wants to be on the road when the robot car is being tested?

    The thing I'm excited about the most is wireless power. Imagine it, no more cumbersome power cords to worry about getting tangled up. We already have wireless keyboards and mice. We now need a wireless monitor connector and wireless speakers. With wireless power, the only wire we would need is for the network. Then again, I'm not so sure if wireless power can deliver enough energy for computers. But with it, we can seriously cut back on cords.
  • erwos - Thursday, September 20, 2007 - link

    You must live in a bad market for them, because my experiences are exactly the opposite. Excellent voice and data, plus their prices are excellent, even without SERO. The idea of moving to "mobile Internet" is great, and I hope it comes to fruition. Reply
  • MGSsancho - Thursday, September 20, 2007 - link

    i have been waiting for this. i need to run a 55' usb line under the house and it does work. even using romex with 14awg wires wont do. sure I can make adapters and use cat5. but this would be a better solution. <-- lazy Reply

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