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The Robot Car Prof.Rodgers

Ted Talk
1.We will first watch the first excerpt of the video with the volume muted. In pairs translate the Italian subtitles
into English. As we will subsequently watch the video in English leave space for corrections.

00:11 –

00:36 –

Moved by the death of his friend in a car accident, Sebastian became interested in the creation of a safe, self-driving
car. The sentences from this excerpt are not in order. Put them in order. Then listen and check if you are correct.

-And the unimaginable happened: it became the first car to ever return from a DARPA Grand
Challenge, winning Stanford 2 million dollars. ( )
And even though a hundred teams were there, these cars went nowhere.( )
We made it learn from us, and we set it free in the desert. ( )
We built the hardware and the software.(4)
So we decided at Stanford to build a different self-driving car. ( )
I saw the concept first in the DARPA Grand Challenges where the U.S. government issued a prize to build a
self-driving car that could navigate a desert. ( )
Yet I still hadn't saved a single life.(7)

01:16 –

What evidence, if any, is there for the following statements?

1.Testing of the robot cars has been confined to California.

2. The cars have driven 160.000 miles.

3.Los Angeles is the most difficult city for robot cars

01:53 –

Decide if the following statements are true or false.

1.The car has only been tested when there was little traffic

2.The car has not yet driven by night.

3. Lombard Street in San Francisco is a difficult street for both traditional and self-driving cars

02:28(Video) Man: _______ ________ _________. ___________ ?

Second Man: __________ ____________ _____________

02:38 –
Choose words to complete the gaps in the text. Then, listen to check if you are correct.

Now I can't get my friend Harold back to 1. _______, but I can do something for all the people who
2___________. Do you know that driving 3__________ are the number one 4. ___________ of death for
young people? And do you 5________ that 6__________ all of those are 7_________to human error and
not machine error, and can 8___________ be prevented by machines?

almost accidents realize died due cause therefore life

03:01 –
In this section of his talk Sebastian Turn cites the figures below. Try to guess what he will say about each of them.
Then listen to check if you are correct.

52 minutes per day

Four billion hours

2.4 billion gallons of gasoline wasted.

03:49 –
Now I think there's a vision here, a new technology, and I'm really looking forward to a time when
generations after us look back at us and say how ridiculous it was that humans were driving cars.

Group Discussion

1.In his talk Sebastian Thurn tries to convince the audience of the merits of robot cars? Which of his
arguments do find persuasive. Rank them from most to least persuasive.

2.Does Sebastian Thurn match your preconception of the engineer/inventor? In what ways is he similar to the
stereotype. In what ways does he differ?
The Robot Car Prof.Rodgers

Google’s Robot Car

1.Robots probably won’t look human when they first begin appearing on the streets in the next several years.
But Google’s self-driving vehicles will have recognizable faces designed to win human hearts and minds.
Google hopes to begin testing its custom-made robot cars on the roads of Northern California starting in

2.Google’s self-driving car prototype represents a cuddly vision of the robot future that is almost the
complete opposite of what most science fiction films have imagined. The vehicle’s headlights combine with
a pretty “nose” to give the impression of a wide-eyed baby confronting the world for the first time. The
magazine, Wired, has described the car as “an egg with the face of a koala.” Cartoonist Matthew Inman,
creator of the popular website The Oatmeal, called the Google cars “adorable Skynet Marshmallow Bumper
Bots.” In other words, Google’s car has a face that wordlessly asks people to trust it when they see the
driverless vehicle ambling down the road.

3.Trust is important because the idea of self-driving cars can inspire 1……………:excitement and fear.
2…… …. the one hand, many experts have hailed the future of self-driving cars as delivering human drivers
from their own distracted, sleepy, drunk driving habits and possibly reducing the 3_____________ of
road accidents, the 4_______________ of 32,719 deaths in the U.S.5_______ ______in 2013. A report by
the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C., suggested that a future filled
with self-driving cars could also ease traffic congestion and save people time 6________________ their
commutes. On the other hand, more than 75 percent of people surveyed 7_________________ said they would not trust a self-driving car to take their child to school. And 8_________
_____31 percent of survey respondents said they would let the car’s computer drive whenever possible.

alone both by number during cause on only

4.Google knows that it has a lot of work to do in getting people to fully trust its vision of self-driving cars
that have only a start and stop button. The technology giant has itself become the1____________ of self-
driving cars in the public imagination as the company brand most 2______________ with the technology,
according to a report by KPMG, an audit, tax and advisory firm. Yet the 3____________ report
4______________ that respondents in focus groups ranging from Los Angeles to New Jersey almost all
5_____________ a need to be able to take control of the car at any point partly 6____________ they didn’t
fully trust the self-driving technology and partly 7________________ still wanted to enjoy
8_______________ driving.

face because(x 2) expressed same associated manual showed

5.Part of Google’s “hearts and minds” strategy involves reducing aggressive driving in the self-driving
car’s behavior and restraining its top speed to 25 miles per hour — a pace more suitable for driving in the
streets of suburbia rather than speeding down the highway. Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, recounted his
driving experience with a prototype of Google’s self-driving car: “The car we rode in did not strike me as
dangerous. It struck me as cautious. It drove slowly and deliberately, and I got the impression that it is more
likely to annoy other drivers than to harm them.”

6.But Google has also clearly put plenty 1________ thought and care 2__________ the face its self-driving
car presents3___________ the world. That is a wise move, given how the fusiform face area of the human
brain seems quite willing to 4____________ the fronts of cars as faces, according to several studies. One
The Robot Car Prof.Rodgers

2012 study 5___________ in the journal PNAS used fMRI brain scans to see how car “experts” interpreted
the car faces. A recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE also used such brain scans to
6______________ connections between a person’s tendency to 7___________ human attributes in the fronts
of cars and the activation of the fusiform face area of the brain. A 2010 study in the journal Evolution &
Human Actors has even 8____________ how people of different cultures — specifically Austrian and
Ethiopian — interpret the shapes of car fronts as having certain human qualities.

to into examine interpret see examined of published

7.The automobile industry has also recognized the face factor in how it presents its cars to customers.
A Wall Street Journal article from 2006 explored the various faces of car models and brands, noting the
changing tactics among automakers to either make cars look appealingly cute or menacingly angry. Angry
car faces were popular among car buyers at the time, but certain automakers stuck with the kindlier car faces
in accordance with their brands.

8.Google’s idea of going with the cuddly face makes sense for a introducing a potentially terrifying new
technology that would come face to face with pedestrians and cyclists on a daily basis. It is not a new tactic
for selling cars, but it does represent a new push to make robots a part of people’s lives in a way that has
never been done before.

Complete paragraphs 3, 4 and 6 with appropriate words from the boxes beneath the paragraphs..


Match the best headings in the list below with the corresponding paragraphs. An example hs been done for you.

A. Why Americans resist the Google car

B. What will distinguish Google’s car from others 1

C. Findings on appearances of conventional cars

D. Research on human responses to car fronts

E. Author’s opinion on Google’s strategy

F. Descriptions of the Google car

G. A personal experience with the Google car

H. Conflicting responses to robot cars

Reading for the Main Ideas
Each of the entities in the table below feature in the text. Complete the 3 columns as follows:

1.In column write if the entity is mentioned in relation to the Google car or automated cars in general. column 2 write if the entity is interested in the appearance of automated cars..
3.In column make notes on what, if anything, the entity says on other aspects of automated cars.
-An example has been done for you

Name Google Car or Appearance Characteristics other than appearance. (Make notes)
Automated Cars
in General


The Oatmeal Google Car Yes The car was not dangerous. It was cautious. It drove
slowly and deliberately. It seemed more likely to annoy
(Matthew Inman) than hurt other drivers.

Enro Centre





Evolution and

Human Actors

Wall Street

The Robot Car Prof.Rodgers

To what do the underlined words refer?

Para Text Reference

1 A. when they first begin appearing
B. testing its custom-made robot cars.

2 A.asks people to trust it,

A,from their own distracted, sleepy,
3 B. to take their child to school
C. said they would let fully trust its vision of self-driving

4 B. The technology giant has itself

C. they didn’t fully trust

5 A:restraining its top speed

B. recounted his driving experience

C. than to harm them.

6. A. That is a wise move

A. in how it presents its cars

B. among car buyers at the time,

C. in accordance with their brands.

8 It is not a new tactic

Reading for Specific Information

Indicate if the following statements are true (T), false (F) or if there is not enough information in the text to decide
(N), based only on the information in the text.

1.Wired’s description of the Google car is insulting( )

2.The author thinks appearance is very important for automated cars( )

3. There is some agreement between the Insurance Com. and KPMG surveys( )

4. The PNAS and Plos One studies used similar research methods( )

5.. Journalists for Wired want to test drive the Google car( )

6.Austrians and Ethiopians interpret the shapes of car fronts in the same way.( )

7. The Wall Street Journal says cars with angry faces can never succeed ( )
The Robot Car Prof.Rodgers


Q. Having watched the video and read the article, would you buy a robot car? Explain why/why not..