Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Driverless cars approaching

BBC reports: [edited]

A driverless car called Boss has scooped a $2m prize in a Californian race for robotic vehicles.

Boss successfully drove around an urban environment, avoiding other cars, and covering 60 miles (85km) in less than six hours, all without any human control.

The race was organised by the US military's Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) and is designed to develop unmanned vehicles that could be used in battle situations. Automotive manufacturers say the technology could eventually lead to self-driving cars.

Boss navigated around a simulated town, created on a disused US Air Force base in Victorville, in the Californian desert. It had to deal with single and dual carriageway roads, junctions, buildings and car parks. As well as the 10 other driverless cars, Boss shared the road with more than 30 professional human drivers to simulate busy traffic.

"This is a big day for robotics," said Chris Urmson, the team's technology leader. "We had 11 vehicles that were incredibly capable, and the fact that six of them drove the 60 miles is amazing - just a big day."

Spectators watched from grandstands as the vehicles pulled up at junctions, turned on their indicators, and then pulled away with the steering wheel eerily moving by itself.

One of the key pieces of technology for the winning team was a Lidar - a spinning laser scanner. "It has 64 individual lasers in it, and it spins about 10 times a second to generate about a million measurements of the world," explained Chris Urmson. "That gives us a kind of point cloud which we can use to help understand where features are - cars, walls, the sidewalk and so on."


brecon said...

Thank you very much for this, it will help me with a GCSE reaserach project i have to do with PIC cars. :D

brett jordan said...

i'm very glad brecon... what does PIC stand for?

Brook said...

I'm guessing you know already dad, but,

...programmable intelligent computer...
or programmable intergrated chip, but I'm guessing the former?

brett jordan said...

I didn't know. I do now. Thanks Brook.

brecon said...

Well we have to make a PIC car to race against others in a Toyota challenge in north wales, if we win we get to look round the factory and then enter the UK finals. This will be held in Derbyshire where we will be shown around the factory there.

Alongside all of this i will be visiting the Birmingham Jaguar Factory with the rest of the team. Should be good ^^