DETROIT - Two tests by AAA during the past two years show that partially automated driving systems don't always function properly, so the auto club is recommending that car companies limit their use.
Researchers with AAA recently tested systems from five manufacturers over a distance of 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers), and said they encountered problems every eight miles (13 kilometers).
Most of the issues involved systems designed to keep vehicles in their lane, but the tests discovered that many had trouble spotting simulated broken-down vehicles in their path. About two-thirds of the time the test vehicles hit the broken-down car, at an average speed of 25 mph (40 kph), according to the study.
It was AAA's second round of tests on the systems. Researchers said little had changed from a test of four other vehicles in 2018, prompting the recommendation that automakers stop including the technology on more models.
"AAA has repeatedly found that active driving assistance systems do not perform consistently, especially in real-world scenarios," said Greg Brannon, AAA's director of automotive engineering. "Automakers need to work toward more dependable technology including improving lane keeping assistance."
Also the systems, which combine control of acceleration, braking and steering, often quit working with little notice to drivers, AAA found. That could cause a dangerous situation if the driver isn't fully engaged and has to make an emergency decision.
AAA tested five vehicles at several research centers, with drivers and instruments monitoring their performance. Included this year were a 2019 BMW X7 SUV, a 2019 Cadillac CT6 sedan, a 2019 Ford Edge SUV, a 2020 Kia Telluride SUV and a 2020 Subaru Outback SUV. Their systems have names like Kia's "Highway Driving Assist," Subaru's "EyeSight," Ford's "Co-Pilot 360," Cadillac's "Super Cruise," and BMW's "Active Driving Assistant Professional."
The results were similar to those found in 2018 testing by AAA of four other vehicles including a 2017 Tesla Model S with the company's "Autopilot" system.
BMW, General Motors and Subaru issued statements saying their systems aid drivers and are not meant to be fully autonomous. Messages were left seeking comment from Ford and Kia.
Subaru said its system "is designed to assist the driver, not replace the driver, when confronting hazards," while GM said it designed the Super Cruise system so it makes sure the driver stays engaged.
"Super Cruise undergoes rigorous testing and validation, and we continue to remain confident in the system," GM's statement said.
BMW said it appears the X7's system performed as designed in AAA's testing. "BMW requires that the driver remain fully at attention in order to intervene in the case of an emergency situation (such as a car stopped in the lane as simulated in the AAA study)," BMW said.
AAA said most owners manuals explain that the systems have trouble spotting stationary objects.
The most recent tests show that the systems aren't improving much, even as automakers move them into more mainstream models. Brannon said that can be a problem.
People who bought systems when they first came out generally were early adopters who know more about technology, Brannon said. But as the systems make their way into more mainstream models, people who are less tech-savvy will be driving them, he said.
"People are really less familiar and less likely to really engage in understanding how the systems work," he said. "That just assume they do work. That could be a really dangerous assumption."
Also, research has shown that people become overly reliant on the technology, which could be dangerous when the systems don't work, he said. Also, there's no standardized way for the vehicles to notify drivers that the systems are disengaging. Some just have a green light on the dash, while the Cadillac's steering wheel vibrates and a green light goes to flashing red, he said.
In real-road tests, all of the systems had trouble keeping the vehicles in their lanes, and they came too close to other vehicles and guardrails, AAA said. Test track examinations of three vehicles, the Kia Telluride, BMW X7 and Subaru Outback, found that all had trouble spotting a simulated broken-down vehicle in their lane most of the time, Brannon said.
The Cadillac system couldn't be tested on the track because General Motors limits use to divided highways, while the Ford system also wouldn't work on the track. But both systems had problems on real roads, Brannon said.
He said that problems with the system could slow the adoption of fully autonomous vehicles because owners who experience the driver-assist technology may not trust it.
Scholl Community Impact Group in Winchester offers equine assisted therapy.
Director Lenelle Scholl, started Blazing A New Trail Autism Support Group in 2009 to increase children's physical and social skills. Student's from Rhinelander to Three Lakes travel to the facility to receive therapy and learn how to ride. According to Scholl, the connection between horse and human can build a really close bond.
"The movement of the horse stimulates connections that really no one can explain," says Scholl. The movement of the horse, and each horse is built differently like we are and we move differently and each horse makes a different connection with the students.
The program doesn't only accommodate students with disabilities but the program is bully friendly. Kids that have a difficulty communicating will walk out of here talking, kids that don't understand why bullying is not okay will build some sensitivity.
The program has about 30 volunteers and the care extended is unmatched.
"We have about 30 volunteers from all walks of life. No one in our group gets paid. My instructors don't get paid, I don't get paid, nobody gets paid," says Scholl. We're there because we want to make a difference in these kids' lives.
Anyone who is interested in the program can sign up or if you simply want to learn how to ride, they're always available.
ANTIGO - The Wild Ones Northwoods Gateway Chapter created a butterfly garden in Antigo to help pollinators such as bees, birds, and butterflies. They created a space that can be enjoyed and used to teach people how they can help the environment with native plants and the sustainable landscaping movement.
The president of the Wild Ones Antigo Chapter, Christine Macklem, is an avid gardener that wanted to figure out how to make a butterfly garden for the community. She believes Wild Ones can help along with the Lumberjack Community Project Grant Program.
"The one mission we had in mind was to educate the public about native plants and pollinators and to build this butterfly garden," said Macklem.
Julie Rose, is a concerned environmentalist that hopes the garden will help sustain the native bees that are vital to our agriculture and human community. Including the birds that contribute to pollinating.
"There's been a steep decline in bird population, for the same reason as habitat degradation, pesticide use, and climate change," said Rose.
Ann Savagian studied biology with an emphasis in botany which brought her to Wild Ones.
"To encourage people to turn at least part of their property their landscape into a native habitat so that it supports plants that are needed by not just pollinators, but by the birds and the mammals and so on," said Savagian.
This garden is an educational tool for children in elementary school where they hope to teach children about the importance of bees and other pollinators.
"We want people to walk the path in Antigo. We want them to park their car and just come in and sit and meditate on the benches and learn about what we're doing right here," said Macklem.
The garden was created in July 2020 and the chapter is open to new members. If you would like to learn more or donate you can visit their Facebook group Wild Ones Northwoods Gateway Chapter.
WAUSAU - The 34-year-old man accused of attempting to meet young girls online for sex was formally charged Tuesday in Marathon County Circuit Court with trafficking of a child, after being arrested on September 21. Osterman was arrested in Oneida County and transferred to Marathon County Jail.
On September 21, the arrest is a result of a two year investigation conducted by the Oneida County Sheriff's Office and the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force.
Marathon County Judge Suzanne O'Neil set a $50,000 cash bond for Osterman, during court there were some disagreements on whether to issue a signature bond or a cash bond. Runde said Osterman faces a charge in Arizona of "public sexual indecency". Runde said the risk of flight for Osterman is very high, so a cash bond is appropriate instead of a signature.
Assistant District Attorney Davis Runde said the state requested a higher amount cash bond due to the strength of the case.
"His actions have at least crossed state lines into Illinois and on the eve of his arrest the defendant traveled back from Minnesota," said Runde. "At approximately 3 O'clock in the morning there have been well over 100 cyber tips relayed to the investigative team in which the defendant attempts to obtain a child for the purpose of having sex."
These agencies received Cyber Tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding messages that were being intercepted on the internet from a person looking to have sexual contact with a child. During the investigation, Osterman attempted to obtain a child for the purpose of having sex with that child.
Four search warrants were served in Oneida County on September 21, 2020 as part of the investigation.
According to the criminal complaint, dating back to January 2018, investigators believe Osterman used an alias and attempted to meet a young girl for sex using the social networking service, MeetMe. Per the criminal complaint public wi-fi had been used, the identity of the user could not be determined.
According to the complaint, at the time, the user had suggested meeting an underage girl, but later stated it was a joke, when the recipient said they'd call the police.
Osterman's criminal complaints shows similar request at various times over the two year period until June 2020. Osterman owns internet service provider Northwoods Connect, which serves Wisconsin's Northwoods. According to the complaint, Osterman told investigators anyone of his 400 customers could be the suspect, but there was no way to track one specific customer to the IP address when the detective attempted to track the source of the messages.
According to the complaint, in February 2020, Osterman's vehicle was seen near one of the several W-Fi locations that he often used. Per the complaint a Rhinelander police officer asked Osterman what he was doing there for several hours, Osterman replied he was the owner of Northwoods Connect and was testing the internet speed of his competitors.
Per the complaint, investigators later installed a GPS device on his vehicle in April and say they matched his location to the source of the messages.
According to the complaint, in May Osterman is accused of attempting to meet a 9-year-old at a motel in Tomahawk, per the complaint Osterman never showed up and the meet up turned out to be fake.
On June 8th, multiple agencies, including the state Department of Criminal Investigations, set up an operation to meet up with Osterman. The GPS locator put his car at the park in Marathon County where he was supposed to meet up with the under-cover agent who told Osterman she could get him a 9-year-old girl.
The complaint says Osterman walked around the park but never met up with the agent, even while they continued to exchange messages.
Osterman's arrest was a collaborate effort between the Oneida County Sheriff's Office and the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force. The Tomahawk Police Department, the Rhinelander Police Department, the Wausau Police Department and the Marathon County Sheriff's Office also assisted with the investigation.
His cash bond is set at $50,000. If he posts bond:
Allowed no contact with children under 18.
No leaving the state of Wisconsin.
No use of internet capable devices.
Turn in his passport to the Marathon Co. Sheriffs Office.
Osterman will appear in court again on Indigency hearing on September 28 and again on September 30 for a preliminary hearing.
MADISON - Faced with soaring coronavirus cases across Wisconsin, particularly on college campuses, Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday extended a statewide mask mandate until Nov. 21.
The order, which has been in effect since August, was scheduled to expire on Monday. Evers extended the order even as his authority to issue a previous mandate is being challenged by conservatives in court.
UNITED STATES - The death toll in the U.S. from the coronavirus has topped 200,000, a figure unimaginable eight months ago when the scourge first reached the world's richest nation.
That's according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University, based on figures from state health authorities. The real number of dead is thought be much higher, in part because many COVID-19 deaths, especially early on, were probably ascribed to other causes.
The number of dead in the U.S. is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. It is roughly equal to the population of Salt Lake City or Huntsville, Alabama.
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