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Researchers develop driverless car prototype

Posted: 28 Mar 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:driverless car? autonomous car? sensor?

Researchers at the University of Essex are developing loping an autonomous model car that could pave the way for intelligent driverless vehicles.

The project will build an autonomous model car which will be tested on a race track by middle of the year. The prototype will also be showcased at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' World Congress on Computational Intelligence in Hong Kong in 2008.

"As far as we are aware, this is the first time a completely autonomous model car has been developed," said Dr. Simon Lucas of the Department of Computer Science, and head of the project, in a statement. "Similar principles have been applied to full-size cars in the past but the cost implications of developing the technology using real cars mean it just isn't viable for most researchers. By using model cars, we will be able investigate the possibilities of the technology far easier and more cheaply," Lucas said in a statement.

The intelligent model car will be built using a standard remote control model vehicle. A PC will be mounted on the chassis and a video camera, streaming real-time computer vision, along with other sensors. The software written for the PC will allow the car to be fully autonomous, enabling it to recognize obstacles and make tactical decisions as it drives itself around the racetrack.

"We envisage that the technology needed to develop our prototype could pave the way for a future where driverless cars are a reality," Lucas said. "It is entirely possible that in the next 15 years we could see driverless cars being used in cities around the world, probably for specific transportation needs such as taxis or delivery vehicles. The potential real-world applications of the computer vision technology that we will develop are endless."

The Essex autonomous car project is funded by the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society.




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