University of California

In the Driver’s Seat: When Can We Expect To Hand the Wheel Over to Robots?

Steven Shladover thinks that you, my human friend, are an excellent driver—and that fact makes his job exceptionally difficult. That is because Shladover, program manager at UC Berkeley’s Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH), has spent 40 years researching automated vehicle systems. The Holy Grail of this field is the self-driving car: the artificially intelligent chauffeur that promises to one day relieve us of our driving duties. If recent media accounts are to be believed, this sci-fi dream may be right around the corner, but the veteran Shladover is not so sure.

From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

UC’s Two Student Regents—one Muslim, the other Jewish—Seek Common Ground

Sitting around a table together is about to get even more symbolic.

For the first time, two students, one Muslim and one Jewish, will sit together as the two student members of the University of California’s Board of Regents when the board meets in San Francisco later this month. One voted against the other’s appointment and both faced opposition and hard feelings when they were named to what remains, to many, an obscure post on UC’s system-wide governing body.

Avoiding a Tragic Wine Crush: Seismic Expert Urges Safer Barrel-Stacking Method

A forklift operator at Wild Horse Winery near Paso Robles was maneuvering between barrel rows in the wine cellar when suddenly the ground started to shake. The 18-foot-high stacks swayed above her and then collapsed, burying her in an avalanche of 600-pound barrels. It took rescuers over an hour to reach her, after carefully draining and removing barrels one by one.

Cool Play: Innovator Aims to Combat Global Warming From the Rooftops Down

George Ban-Weiss is all about being cool: Not only does coolness figuratively define his work as a professional jazz bassist, it almost literally defines his career as a scientist.

His work was pivotal in persuading the city of Los Angeles to require this year that new and renovated residential rooftops be “cool roofs”—reflecting rather than absorbing the sun’s heat. It’s an idea that could someday spread throughout California and other sun-soaked metropolises.

Rim Fire Reprise Warning: Restoring Forests the Wrong Way May Fuel Future Fires

As the U.S. Forest Service finalizes plans to restore forests torched in last year’s Yosemite-area Rim Fire—the third largest in state history—conservationists are worried that the scheme skimps on environmental protection. Also concerned is one of the state’s top forestry experts, a UC Berkeley professor who warns that replanting trees the traditional way will simply sow the seeds for the next conflagration.

Why Ferguson is Felt Far and Wide: Hits National Nerves about Racism and Robocops

The police shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, is the lead story on all broadcast, social media and print outlets, pushing out the Gaza conflict, ISIS in Iraq, and the war in Ukraine. It’s caused unease across the country and along the full range of the political spectrum. That’s because it’s not just about a single cop shooting a single teenager. It’s about two trends affecting the United States from coast to coast.

Stardust Captured: Scientists Likely Find First Bits from Beyond Our Solar System

Today UC Berkeley scientists are announcing that they have probably identified, in samples returned from a NASA probe, particles of interstellar matter—the first samples of “stardust” from beyond our solar system.

Obtaining the dust motes has been an achievement of staggering technical proficiency in extracting the infinitesimal from the infinite.

Engineering Sisters Design, Ship Bargain Bots to Engage Diverse Kids—Especially Girls

The two robots spin and lurch, their little electric motors whirring against each other as a bevy of kids look on, their eyes bulging and their shoulders scrunched almost up to their ears in rapt attention. A girl of about 12 with long black hair scratches her chin, smiling nervously—a smile that twists into a grimace as her robot battles too near the edge of the circular table. She talks to her robot, goads it on, giggles. When that fails, she resorts to body English, rapping her right hand against her hip three times.

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