This is what London looks like through a self-driving car’s eyes

If cars could talk, they’d say, “Wow.” At least, if those cars were of the self-driving variety and are as impressed as we are by stunning cityscapes. Thanks to an incredible visualization completed by ScanLAB Projects on behalf of New York Times Magazine, we now have an idea of what autonomous cars “see” when they navigate the roads of our global cities, and the view ain’t shabby at all. Providing a brand-new perspective on the world we inhabit, the 3D laser scans of London are truly phenomenal in their degree of detail, and moreover, their almost dreamlike quality.

“One of the most significant uses of 3D scanning in the years to come will not be by humans at all but by autonomous vehicles,” notes Geoff Manaugh of New York Times Magazine. And to give us a sense of just what sort of scanning these vehicles deal with on their drives, two architectural designers, Matthew Shaw and William Trossell, strapped a laser scanner to a Honda CR-V, and went exploring.

Today, self-driving cars find their way around streets, other vehicles, and roadblocks by way of a technology known as “lidar,” a combination of “light” and “radar.” By sending out nearly a million bursts of light per second, all imperceptible to the human eye, cars are able to sense their surroundings. But not only are they able to sense, but these autonomous vehicles actually “capture” their environments, meaning they effectively recreate a three-dimensional model of a scene — one that continues to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing location.

ScanLAB’s recent project, to some extent, attempts to recreate the car’s lidar point of view for human appreciation, with pretty incredible results. “The London that their work reveals is a landscape of aging monuments and ornate buildings, but also one haunted by duplications and digital ghosts,” Manaugh writes. “The city’s double-­decker buses, scanned over and over again, become time-­stretched into featureless mega-­structures blocking whole streets at a time. Other buildings seem to repeat and stutter, a riot of Houses of Parliament jostling shoulder to shoulder with themselves in the distance. Workers setting out for a lunchtime stroll become spectral silhouettes popping up as aberrations on the edge of the image. Glass towers unravel into the sky like smoke.”

But it’s more than aesthetics. As the architects note, not only do the laser scans reveal how far technology has come, but also, how far it has yet to go in creating accurate representations of a car’s whereabouts. But until these autonomous vehicles can see just as we can, we should enjoy their view — it’s pretty amazing.

Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.