By now, anybody watching the self-driving car space is familiar with the trough of disillusionment, the stage of the Gartner hype cycle that follows the peak of inflated expectations, andfor the lucky onesprecedes the slope of enlightenment. This is the part where instead of puffing their chests out, the technologists put their heads down to work on delivering what theyve promised. Its also where self-driving has been for a few years now, but encouraging signs have emerged that robo-cars have started the climb.
Like, for example, Luminars announcement this week that it has developed a lidar scanner it will sell for just $500cheap enough to bring a new level of autonomy to consumer cars. Or that after breaking up with self-driving developer Aurora earlier this year, Volkswagen on Friday invested $2.6 billion in Argo AI, with plans to use its tech to launch an autonomous service (likely meaning robo-taxis or trucking, somewhere, sometime). These are small signals, to be sure, but every springtime starts with green shoots.
Elsewhere in the world of transportation, we have a look at Sikorskys nimble new helicopter, a dispatch from electric-loving Norway, an airplane seat design that might make you want to sit in the middle, and more. Its been a weeklets get you caught up.
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While we wait for the Army to decide which new helicopter design it will take to war, have a look back at that time Tom Cruise insisted on learning to fly a chopper for the latest Mission Impossibleand pulled off a horribly dangerous stunt.