Monday, November 23. 2015
Note: this article was published a while ago and was rebloged here and there already. I kept it in my pile of "interesting articles to read later when I'll have time" for a long time as well therefore. But it make sense to post it in conjunction with the previous one about Norman Foster and by extension with the otehr one concerning the Chicago Biennial.
It is also sometimes interesting to read posts with delay, when the hype and buzzwords are gone. Written in the aftermath of the Tesla annoncement about its home battery (Powerwall), the article was all about energy revolution. But since then, what? We're definitely looking forward...
Nobody wants to say it outright, but the Apple Watch sucks. So do most smartwatches. Every time I use my beautiful Moto 360, its lack of functionality makes me despair. But the problem isn’t our gadgets. It’s that the future of consumer tech isn’t going to come from information devices. It’s going to come from infrastructure.
That’s why Elon Musk’s announcements of the new Tesla battery line last night were more revolutionary than Apple Watch and more exciting than Microsoft’s admittedly nifty HoloLens. Information tech isn’t dead — it has just matured to the point where all we’ll get are better iterations of the same thing. Better cameras and apps for our phones. VR that actually works. But these are not revolutionary gadgets. They are just realizations of dreams that began in the 1980s, when the information revolution transformed the consumer electronics market.
But now we’re entering the age of infrastructure gadgets. Thanks to devices like Tesla’s household battery, Powerwall, electrical grid technology that was once hidden behind massive barbed wire fences, owned by municipalities and counties, is now seeping slowly into our homes. And this isn’t just about alternative energy like solar. It’s about how we conceive of what technology is. It’s about what kinds of gadgets we’ll be buying for ourselves in 20 years.
It’s about how the kids of tomorrow won’t freak out over terabytes of storage. They’ll freak out over kilowatt-hours.
Beyond transforming our relationship to energy, though, the infrastructure age is about where we expect computers to live. The so-called internet of things is a big part of this. Our computers aren’t living in isolated boxes on our desktops, and they aren’t going to be inside our phones either. The apps in your phone won’t always suck you into virtual worlds, where you can escape to build treehouses and tunnels in Minecraft. Instead, they will control your home, your transit, and even your body.
Once you accept that the thing our ancestors called the information superhighway will actually be controlling cars on real-life highways, you start to appreciate the sea change we’re witnessing. The internet isn’t that thing in there, inside your little glowing box. It’s in your washing machine, kitchen appliances, pet feeder, your internal organs, your car, your streets, the very walls of your house. You use your wearable to interface with the world out there.
It makes perfect sense to me that a company like Tesla could be at the heart of the new infrastructure age. Musk’s focus has always been relentlessly about remolding the physical world, changing the way we power our transit — and, with SpaceX, where future generations might live beyond Earth. The opposite of cyberspace is, well, physical space. And that’s where Tesla is taking us.
But in the infrastructure age, physical space has been irrevocably transformed by cyberspace. Now we use computers to experience the world in ways we never could before computer networks and data analysis, using distributed sensor devices over fault lines to give people early warnings about earthquakes that are rippling beneath the ground — and using satellites like NASA’s SMAP to predict droughts years before they happen.
Of course, there are the inevitable dangers that come with infusing physical space with all the vulnerabilities of cyberspace. People will hack your house; they’ll inject malicious code into delivery drones; stealing your phone might become the same thing as stealing your car. We’ll still be mining unsustainably to support our glorious batteries and photovoltaics and smart dance clubs.
But we will also benefit enormously from personalizing the energy grid, creating a battery-powered hearth for every home. Plus the infrastructure age leads directly into outer space, to tackle big problems of human survival, and diverts our impoverished attention spans from gazing neurotically at the social scene unfolding in tiny glowing rectangles on our wrists.
The information age brought us together, for better or worse. It allowed us to understand our environment and our bodies in ways we never could before. But the infrastructure age is what will prevent us from killing ourselves as we grow up into a truly global civilization. That is far more important, and exciting, than any gold watch could ever be.
Monday, November 09. 2015
Note: I recently posted about the E.A.T exhibition (closed on 1s Nov.) at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg. Now comes the time of a new important exhibition at PAC (Milano) looking back to influential predecessors: Superstudio ...
There have been many exhibitions or mentions recently about this radical italian group, sure. Yet he interesting twist this time is that first, it is curated by Andreas Angelidakis, greek architect which work and research lead him very close to contemporary art, if not to ("new aesthetic" ?) "digital-media artists" (as Andreas was/is part of the "neen" group, composed among others by artists such as Miltos Manetas, Rafael Rozendaal, Angelo Plessas, etc.); secondly, the exhibition displays unseen works and tries to connect Superstudio past activities to contemporary works in art^z
Btw, for friends also living or working in Lausanne, the curator of the exhibition - Andreas Angelidakis - will be present in the citry and give a talk during the coming "Post Digital Cultures" symposium organized by Festival Les Urbaines 2015, next early December.
In Milan, a dialogue between Superstudio and 19 contemporary artists establishes connections and relations among the Florence group’s research and contemporary culture.
The Milan PAC presents the oeuvre of Superstudio (1966–1978), the group of radical architects and radical designers from Florence, which not only influenced the way of thinking and designing of architects such as Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Bernard Tschumi, but also definitively questioned the boundary between art and architecture, and which is regarded as the last great Italian avant-garde.
“The exhibition is the chance to investigate the possibilities of a form of discourse through images that is still open, in which the strength of Superstudio’s projects – drawn from the large and mostly unpublished archive of the group in Florence – and of their environments, displayed together for the first time, enables to disclose and establish relationships with contemporary art,” curators Vittorio Pizzigoni and Valter Scelsi explained.
Superstudio, il Monumento Continuo, New York, 1969. MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Roma. Collezioni MAXXI Architettura. Fondo Superstudio. Above: Superstudio, il Monumento Continuo, Piazza Navona, 1970 Courtesy Pinksummer.
In a unique set-up, conceived by Baukuh and Valter Sclesi together with Superstudio, the Continuous Monument – perhaps the group’s most famous project – enters the PAC, which in itself is a monument to Italian modernity, transfiguring the exhibition space and captivating the viewer in a dynamic experience.
The exhibition will reconstruct Superstudio’s most important projects by bringing together its most representative pieces of design, installations and films, and by building – as a part of the total urbanisation model promoted by Superstudio itself – a dialogue with 19 works by 19 contemporary artists, who have drawn the raw material for their oeuvre from the Florence group’s research: Danai Anesiadou, Alexandra Bachzetsis, Ila Beka and Louise Lemoine, Pablo Bronstein, Stefano Graziani, Petrit Halilaj & Alvaro Urbano, Jim Isermann, Daniel Keller & Ella Plevin, Andrew Kovacs / Archive of Affinities, Rallou Panayotou, Paola Pivi, Angelo Plessas, Riccardo Previdi, RO/LU, Priscilla Tea, Patrick Tuttofuoco, Kostis Velonis, Pae White, Yacht-Utopia/Distopia.
Petrit Halilaj & Alvaro Urbano, What comes first, 2015. Installation, mixed media. Courtesy the artists.
“In selecting contemporary artists to be included in the exhibition, we chose those works that could be imagined as potential answers to Superstudio’s questions. The group’s works from 1970 are still radical today, as they shaped an architecture of premonitions, rather than answers, of questions, rather than objects,” Andreas Angelidakis, co-curator of the exhibition, pointed out. “Their work has put together a number of enigmas, concerning not only architecture, but also the way we live on our planet. Fifty years later, we can start seeing the answers to those questions raised in projects such as The Continuous Monument or Fundamental Acts. A continuous glossy surface that meets all of our needs and desires, and spreads across the world? Could it be that this surface exists today in the form of the Internet?”
Superstudio, Istogrammi manifesto, 1972 (François Lauginie, FRAC Centre Orléans)
Superstudio, Le Dodici Città Ideali, settima - dodicesima città, 1971 (photo Giulio Boem).
Superstudio, Supersuperficie(1972), 2000 (photo ZEPstudio, Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci).
Superstudio, Atti Fondamentali, Educazione, Progetto 1, 1971 Collezioni MAXXI Architettura. Fondo Superstudio.
Ila Bêka & Louise Lemoine, La Maddalena, La Maddalena Chair, 2014. Sound and video installation. Courtesy Beka & Partners.
Paolo Bronstein, Temporary Structure, 2014. Ink and watercolor on paper. Courtesy the artist and Galleria Franco Noero, Torino.
Patrick Tuttofuoco, Revolving Landscape (San Paolo), 2006. Foto di Beppe Giardino.
Until January 6, 2016
Thursday, August 06. 2015
Note: we remain in history for a little more time... It's now Ken Isaacs' turn to be praised for his work around micro inhabitable spaces and living structures! I post this with the iodea in mind that his work could serve as reference for a future workshop next November at ECAL, probably with rAndom International as guests and when we'll continue to work around "cloud computing" and its infrastructure (datacenter), looking for counter-proposals or rather "counter-designs".
Via Object Guerilla
This week at work I picked up an old book, How to Build Your Own Living Structures, by Ken Isaacs, to read at lunch. I didn't finish it, so I brought it home. A little internet-ing revealed this book was out-of-print, rare, and selling for a good bit at various outlets. However, I think the copyright has lapsed, because it is available online as a PDF.
Isaacs was born in 1927 in Peoria, Illinois, and served in the military as a young man. After Korea, he studied architecture, and then began to craft a career as a designer, architect, and educator. In the late fifties, he became Head of Design at the Cranbrook Academy of Arts, birthplace of much notable mid-century modernism, including Eliel and Eero Saarinen Charles and Ray Eames, and Harry Weese. He also spent some time teaching at the Illinois Institute of Technology, founded by Mies van der Rohe as a sort of Bauhaus West.
Cover, via Pop-Up City.
Matrix-based "super chair." Nowadays, most of that stuff can be replaced with an iPad... The next iterative leap in the Matrix was to do away with the framing altogether. Isaacs developed rigid stress-skin structures, using plywood and "L" brackets to make cubes. The cubes were built in modules: 16", 24", and eventually, 48". Smaller units were used for storage; mid-size ones could serve as desks and chairs; and the large units became the first Micro-Houses.
The Micro-House, circa late 60s, via Pop-Up City. Isaacs had the same idea, but he designed a modular, flat-pack, lightweight, re-configurable system. Combining the original beam-based Matrix and the stud-less panel structures, he built 8-foot modules out of 1" steel pipe and inserted plywood volumes into the matrix. Taking the classic modernist approach -- divorcing structure and skin -- he came up with a cheap, versatile house. The First Microhouse, built with a Graham Foundation grant in Groveland, Illinois, (near Carbondale, home of fellow light structure pioneer Buckminster Fuller), looks dated in the photos, but also startlingly fresh. I love the raw, stark geometry of it, everything stripped down to the margins.
Another variation on the Microhouse -- it is infinitely reconfigurable. His 8' Microhouse is very of its era, but has nonetheless managed to inspire at least one modern imitator, in Glasgow. It creates an 8' volume based on a matrix of eight 4' volumes bolted together. The canted sides, tetrahedral feet, and hatch doors give it a real Apollo feel, minus the silvery skin.
The plywood stress-skin Microhouse. Throughout, wrapped in some seventies slang and general architectural hooliganism, Isaacs stresses pre-fabrication, modularity, simplicity, and off-the-shelf parts. None of the projects are particularly difficult to make with simple tools(a little time-consuming, perhaps). The book itself is a bit shambling, combining personal narrative, philosophical inquiry, and DIY instructions. In many ways, it seems like a blog, written with no caps and little editing. Some of the book sale listings I found online show the original as spiral-bound, in keeping with its guerilla nature.
They were eventually able to replace the department-store albatross with this number.
Friday, June 26. 2015
I&IC within Poetics and Politics of Data, exhibition at H3K, scenography. Pictures | #data #research
By fabric | ch
Note: last end of May was the opening of the exhibition Poetics & Politics of Data at the Haus der elektronischen Künste in Basel. This was the occasion to present the temporary results of the design research I'm leading at ECAL/University of Art & Design Lausanne, in collaboration with Nicolas Nova from HEAD - Genève, EPFL and EPFL-ECAL Lab. But for that matter, fabric | ch realized the scenography of the whole exhibition, in particular the "hidden" part hosting the presentation of the design research itself.
The whole spatial display we designed looks like some sort of "heterotopy": an archive and (computer) cabinet of curiosities within the white cube. A little bit like the "behind the scenes" of the exhibition, occupying its center, yet articulating it. It is basically made out of the modular elements that constitutes the "white cube" itself. Just that we maintained the hidden parts of these walls open and visible, widen and turn them in a pathway and an archive.
Also present in the space and scenography are different works from fabric | ch: Deterritorialized Daylight is used to drive the lighting of the inner part of the cabinet, a new work Datadroppers --an online data commune, reminiscence of the now dead Pachube-- is used to collect and re-use random data from the exhibition, several Raspberry Pis in their dedicated 3d printed casing are collecting these data (which includes, in addition to the traditional ones more surpising ones like "curiosity", "transgression", etc.) and "dropping" them on the online service. They are then searchable and be used in third parties applications.
The exhibition will still be on view until the end of August in Basel, with works by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Moniker, Aram Bartholl, Jennifer Lyn Morone, Rybn and several others.
Pictures by David Colombini and Marco Frauchiger
Intro text to the exhibition and credits:
Inhabiting & Interfacing the Cloud(s) is an ongoing design research about Cloud Computing. It explores the creation of counter-proposals to the current expression of this technological arrangement, particularly in its forms intended for private individuals and end users (Personal Cloud). Through its fully documented cross-disciplinary approach that connects the works of interaction designers, architects and ethnographers, this research project aims at producing alternative yet concrete models resulting from a more decentralized and citizen-oriented approach.
Project leaders: Patrick Keller (ECAL), Nicolas Nova (HEAD)
Students (ECAL): Anne-Sophie Bazard, Benjamin Botros, Caroline Buttet, Guillaume Cerdeira, Romain Cazier, Maxime Castelli, Mylène Dreyer, Bastien Girshig, Martin Hertig, Jonas Lacôte, Alexia Léchot, Nicolas Nahornyj, Pierre-Xavier Puissant
Scenography: fabric | ch
ECAL director: Alexis Georgacopoulos
ECAL/University of Art & Design Lausanne, HEAD – Genève, EPFL-ECAL Lab, HES-SO
Wednesday, February 18. 2015
Via iiclouds.org (Nicolas Nova)
“World Brain” by Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon (2015):
Sunday, February 01. 2015
By fabric | ch
Along different projects we are undertaking at fabric | ch, we continue to work on self initiated researches and experiments (slowly, way too slowly... Time is of course missing). Deterritorialized House is one of them, introduced below.
Some of these experimental works concern the mutating "home" program (considered as "inhabited housing"), that is obviously an historical one for architecture but that is also rapidly changing "(...) under pressure of multiple forces --financial, environmental, technological, geopolitical. What we used to call home may not even exist anymore, having transmuted into a financial commodity measured in sqm (square meters)", following Joseph Grima's statement in sqm. the quantified home, "Home is the answer, but what is the question?"
In a different line of works, we are looking to build physical materializations in the form of small pavilions for projects like i.e. Satellite Daylight, 46°28'N, while other researches are about functions: based on live data feeds, how would you inhabit a transformed --almost geo-engineered atmospheric/environmental condition? Like the one of Deterritorialized Living (night doesn't exist in this fictional climate that consists of only one day, no years, no months, no seasons), the physiological environment of I-Weather, or the one of Perpetual Tropical Sunshine, etc.?
We are therefore very interested to explore further into the ways you would inhabit such singular and "creolized" environments composed of combined dimensions, like some of the ones we've designed for installations. Yet considering these environments as proto-architecture (architectured/mediated atmospheres) and as conditions to inhabit, looking for their own logic.
We are looking forward to publish the results of these different projects along the year. Some as early sketches, some as results, or both. I publish below early sketches of such an experiment, Deterritorialized House, linked to the "home/house" line of research. It is about symbiotically inhabiting the data center... Would you like it or not, we surely de-facto inhabit it, as it is a globally spread program and infrastructure that surrounds us, but we are thinking here in physically inhabiting it, possibly making it a "home", sharing it with the machines...
What is happening when you combine a fully deterritorialized program (super or hyper-modern, "non lieu", ...) with the one of the home? What might it say or comment about contemporary living? Could the symbiotic relation take advantage of the heat the machine are generating --directly connected to the amount of processing power used--, the quality of the air, the fact that the center must be up and running, possibly lit 24/7, etc.
As we'll run a workshop next week in the context of another research project (Inhabiting and Interfacing the Cloud(s), an academic program between ECAL, HEAD, EPFL-ECAL Lab and EPFL in this case) linked to this idea of questioning the data center --its paradoxically centralized program, its location, its size, its functionalism, etc.--, it might be useful to publish these drawings, even so in their early phase (theys are dating back from early 2014, the project went back and forth from this point and we are still working on it.)
1) The data center level (level -1 or level +1) serves as a speculative territory and environment to inhabit (each circle in this drawing is a fresh air pipe sourrounded by a certain number of computers cabinets --between 3 and 9).
A potential and idealistic new "infinite monument" (global)? It still needs to be decided if it should be underground, cut from natural lighting or if it should be fragmented into many pieces and located in altitude (--likely, according to our other scenarios that are looking for decentralization and collaboration), etc. Both?
Fresh air is coming from the outside through the pipes surrounded by the servers and their cabinets (the incoming air could be an underground cooled one, or the one that can be found in altitude, in the Swiss Alps --triggering scenarios like cities in the moutains? moutain data farming? Likely too, as we are looking to bring data centers back into small or big urban environments). The computing and data storage units are organized like a "landscape", trying to trigger different atmospheric qualities (some areas are hotter than others with the amount of hot air coming out of the data servers' cabinets, some areas are charged in positive ions, air connectivity is obviously everywhere, etc.)
Artificial lighting follows a similar organization as the servers' cabinets need to be well lit. Therefore a light pattern emerges as well in the data center level. Running 24/7, with the need to be always lit, the data center uses a very specific programmed lighting system: Deterritorialized Daylight linked to global online data flows.
2) Linked to the special atmospheric conditions found in this "geo-data engineered atmosphere" (the one of the data center itself, level -1 or 1), freely organized functions can be located according to their best matching location. There are no thick walls as the "cabinets islands" acts as semi-open partitions.
A program starts to appear that combines the needs of a data center and the one of a small housing program which is immersed into this "climate" (dense connectivity, always artificially lit, 24°C permanent heat). "Houses" start to appear as "plugs" into a larger data center.
3) A detailed view (data center, level -1 or +1) on the "housing plug" that combine programs. At this level, the combination between an office-administration unit for a small size data center start to emerge, combined with a kind of "small office - home office" that is immersed into this perpetually lit data space. This specific small housing space (a studio, or a "small office - home office") becomes a "deterritorialized" room within a larger housing program that we'll find on the upper level(s), likely ground floor or level +2 of the overall compound.
4) Using the patterns emerging from different spatial components (heat, light, air quality --dried, charged in positive ions--, wifi connectivity), a map is traced and "moirés" patterns of spatial configurations ("moirés spaces") start to happen. These define spatial qualities. Functions are "structurelessly" placed accordingly, on a "best matching location" basis (needs in heat, humidity, light, connectivity which connect this approach to the one of Philippe Rahm, initiated in a former research project, Form & Function Follow Climate (2006). Or also i.e. the one of Walter Henn, Burolandschaft (1963), if not the one of Junya Ishigami's Kanagawa Institute).
Note also that this is a line of work that we are following in another experimental project at fabric | ch, about which we also hope to publish along the year, Algorithmic Atomized Functioning --a glimpse of which can be seen in Desierto Issue #3, 28° Celsius.
5) On ground level or on level +2, the rest of the larger house program and few parts of the data center that emerges. There are no other heating or artificial lighting devices besides the ones provided by the data center program itself. The energy spent by the data center must serve and somehow be spared by the house. Fresh and hot zones, artificial light and connectivity, etc. are provided by the data center emergences in the house, so has from the opened "small office - home office" that is located one floor below. Again, a map is traced based and moirés patterns of specific locations and spatial configurations emerge. Functions are also placed accordingly (hot, cold, lit, connected zones).
Starts or tries to appear a "creolized" housing object, somewhere in between a symbiotic fragmented data center and a house, possibly sustaining or triggering new inhabiting patterns...
Project (ongoing): fabric | ch
Team: Patrick Keller, Christophe Guignard, Christian Babski, Sinan Mansuroglu
Friday, January 23. 2015
Note: Following my recent posts about the research project "Inhabiting & Intercacing the Cloud(s)" I'm leading for ECAL, Nicolas Nova and I will be present during next Lift Conference in Geneva (Feb. 4-6 2015) for a talk combined with a workshop and a skype session with EPFL (a workshop related to the I&IC research project will be on the finish line at EPFL –Prof. Dieter Dietz’s ALICE Laboratory– on the day we’ll present in Geneva). If you plan to take part to Lift 15, please come say "hello" and exchange about the project.
Inhabiting and Interfacing the Cloud(s)
Curated by Lift
Fri, Feb. 06 2015 – 10:30 to 12:30
Room 7+8 (Level 2)
Architect (EPFL), founding member of fabric | ch and Professor at ECAL
Principal at Near Future Laboratory and Professor at HEAD Geneva
Workshop description : Since the end of the 20th century, we have been seeing the rapid emergence of “Cloud Computing”, a new constructed entity that combines extensively information technologies, massive storage of individual or collective data, distributed computational power, distributed access interfaces, security and functionalism.
In a joint design research that connects the works of interaction designers from ECAL & HEAD with the spatial and territorial approaches of architects from EPFL, we’re interested in exploring the creation of alternatives to the current expression of “Cloud Computing”, particularly in its forms intended for private individuals and end users (“Personal Cloud”). It is to offer a critical appraisal of this “iconic” infrastructure of our modern age and its user interfaces, because to date their implementation has followed a logic chiefly of technical development, governed by the commercial interests of large corporations, and continues to be seen partly as a purely functional,centralized setup. However, the Personal Cloud holds a potential that is largely untapped in terms of design, novel uses and territorial strategies.
The workshop will be an opportunity to discuss these alternatives and work on potential scenarios for the near future. More specifically, we will address the following topics:
The joint design research Inhabiting & Interfacing the Cloud(s) is supported by HES-SO, ECAL & HEAD.
Interactivity : The workshop will start with a general introduction about the project, and moves to a discussion of its implications, opportunities and limits. Then a series of activities will enable break-out groups to sketch potential solutions.
Wednesday, December 24. 2014
Note: Google Earth or literally and progressively Google's Earth? It could also be considered as the start of the privatization of the lower stratosphere, where up to now, no artifacts were permanently present.
Google X research lab boss Astro Teller says experimental wireless balloons will test delivering Internet access throughout the Southern Hemisphere by next year.
By Tom Simonite
Astro Teller & a Project Loon prototype sails skyward.
Within a year, Google is aiming to have a continuous ring of high-altitude balloons in the Southern Hemisphere capable of providing wireless Internet service to cell phones on the ground.
That’s according to Astro Teller, head of the Google X lab, the company established with the purpose of working on “moon shot” research projects. He spoke at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference in Cambridge today.
Teller said that the balloon project, known as Project Loon, was on track to meet the goal of demonstrating a practical way to get wireless Internet access to billions of people who don’t have it today, mostly in poor parts of the globe.
For that to work, Google would need a large fleet of balloons constantly circling the globe so that people on the ground could always get a signal. Teller said Google should soon have enough balloons aloft to prove that the idea is workable. “In the next year or so we should have a semi-permanent ring of balloons somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere,” he said.
Google first revealed the existence of Project Loon in June 2013 and has tested Loon Balloons, as they are known, in the U.S., New Zealand, and Brazil. The balloons fly at 60,000 feet and can stay aloft for as long as 100 days, their electronics powered by solar panels. Google’s balloons have now traveled more than two million kilometers, said Teller.
The balloons provide wireless Internet using the same LTE protocol used by cellular devices. Google has said that the balloons can serve data at rates of 22 megabits per second to fixed antennas, and five megabits per second to mobile handsets.
Google’s trials in New Zealand and Brazil are being conducted in partnership with local cellular providers. Google isn’t currently in the Internet service provider business—despite dabbling in wired services in the U.S. (see “Google Fiber’s Ripple Effect”)—but Teller said Project Loon would generate profits if it worked out. “We haven’t taken a dime of revenue, but if we can figure out a way to take the Internet to five billion people, that’s very valuable,” he said.
Friday, October 24. 2014
An interesting new project called Satellite Lamps, by Einar Sneve Martinussen, Jørn Knutsen, and Timo Arnall, attempts to visualize the ever-drifting, never exactly accurate workings of GPS.
[Image: From Satellite Lamps].
[Image: From Satellite Lamps].
[Image: From Satellite Lamps].
Wednesday, October 15. 2014
Note: after the zoning for drones within cities, will we develop them with specific "city marks" dedicated for driverless cars? It reminds me a bit of this design research project done a few years ago, The New Robot Domesticity, which purpose was to design objects so that robots could also recognized/use them. Further away, it also remind me of a workshop we organized at the ECAL back in 2005 with researcher Frederic Kaplan (now head of Digital Humanities at EPFL) which purpose was to design artefacts for the Sony Aibo (a doc. video here). This later prtoject was realized in the frame of the research project Variable Environment.
Tricky intersections and rogue mechanical pedestrians will provide a testing area for automated and connected cars.
By Will Knight
The site of Ann Arbor’s driverless town, currently under construction.
A mocked-up set of busy streets in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will provide the sternest test yet for self-driving cars. Complex intersections, confusing lane markings, and busy construction crews will be used to gauge the aptitude of the latest automotive sensors and driving algorithms; mechanical pedestrians will even leap into the road from between parked cars so researchers can see if they trip up onboard safety systems.
The urban setting will be used to create situations that automated driving systems have struggled with, such as subtle driver-pedestrian interactions, unusual road surfaces, tunnels, and tree canopies, which can confuse sensors and obscure GPS signals.
“If you go out on the public streets you come up against rare events that are very challenging for sensors,” says Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center, which is overseeing the project. “Having identified challenging scenarios, we need to re-create them in a highly repeatable way. We don’t want to be just driving around the public roads.”
Google and others have been driving automated cars around public roads for several years, albeit with a human ready to take the wheel if necessary. Most automated vehicles use accurate digital maps and satellite positioning, together with a suite of different sensors, to navigate safely.
Highway driving, which is less complex than city driving, has proved easy enough for self-driving cars, but busy downtown streets—where cars and pedestrians jockey for space and behave in confusing and surprising ways—are more problematic.
“I think it’s a great idea,” says John Leonard, a professor at MIT who led the development of a self-driving vehicle for a challenge run by DARPA in 2007. “It is important for us to try to collect statistically meaningful data about the performance of self-driving cars. Repeated operations—even in a small-scale environment—can yield valuable data sets for testing and evaluating new algorithms.”
The simulation is being built on the edge of the University of Michigan’s campus with funding from the Michigan Department of Transportation and 13 companies involved with developing automated driving technology. It is scheduled to open next spring. It will consist of four miles of roads with 13 different intersections.
Even Google, which has an ambitious vision of vehicle automation, acknowledges that urban driving is a significant challenge. Speaking at an event in California this July, Chris Urmson, who leads the company’s self-driving car project, said several common urban situations remain thorny (see “Urban Jungle a Tough Challenge for Google’s Autonomous Car”). Speaking with MIT Technology Review last month, Urmson gave further details about as-yet-unsolved scenarios (see “Hidden Obstacles for Google’s Self-Driving Cars”).
Such challenges notwithstanding, the first automated cars will go into production shortly. General Motors announced last month that a 2017 Cadillac will be the first car to offer entirely automated driving on highways. It’s not yet clear how the system will work—for example, how it will ensure that the driver isn’t too distracted to take the wheel in an emergency, or under what road conditions it might refuse to take the wheel—but in some situations, the car’s Super Cruise system will take care of steering, braking, and accelerating. Another technology to be tested in the simulated town is vehicle-to-vehicle communications. The University of Michigan recently concluded a government-funded study in Ann Arbor involving thousands of vehicles equipped with transmitters that broadcast position, direction of travel, speed, and other information to other vehicles and to city infrastructure. The trial showed that vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications could prevent many common accidents by providing advanced warning of a possible collision. “One of the interesting things, from our point of view, is what extra value you get by combining” automation and car-to-car communications, Sweatman says. “What happens when you put the two together—how much faster can you deploy it?”
Such challenges notwithstanding, the first automated cars will go into production shortly. General Motors announced last month that a 2017 Cadillac will be the first car to offer entirely automated driving on highways. It’s not yet clear how the system will work—for example, how it will ensure that the driver isn’t too distracted to take the wheel in an emergency, or under what road conditions it might refuse to take the wheel—but in some situations, the car’s Super Cruise system will take care of steering, braking, and accelerating.
Another technology to be tested in the simulated town is vehicle-to-vehicle communications. The University of Michigan recently concluded a government-funded study in Ann Arbor involving thousands of vehicles equipped with transmitters that broadcast position, direction of travel, speed, and other information to other vehicles and to city infrastructure. The trial showed that vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications could prevent many common accidents by providing advanced warning of a possible collision.
“One of the interesting things, from our point of view, is what extra value you get by combining” automation and car-to-car communications, Sweatman says. “What happens when you put the two together—how much faster can you deploy it?”
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