Posted: 04/09/2017 - Views: 357

The long road to autonomous vehicles

The long road to autonomous vehicles |
Back in 1995, the NavLab 5 team at Carnegie Mellon University launched an autonomous vehicle on a trip from Pittsburgh to San Diego.

The vehicle navigated itself, without intervention from a human driver, for 98 percent of the 2,800 mile journey. It averaged speeds above 60 mph.
So if self-driving technology worked on a cross-country trip 22 years ago, why aren't roads filled with autonomous cars today?

The reason is the technology remains closer to the research lab stage and is not ready for prime time, say experts. It's not good enough or affordable enough yet for widespread use.

Sensors must shrink, improve their range, particularly in bad weather, and become less expensive. Mobile networks must eliminate transmission delays so vehicles can communicate instantly - not only with nearby cars but also with the internet cloud to process data.

Costs for very precise, real-time, three-dimensional map technology to guide self-driving cars must come down. Artificial intelligence software must be nimble to handle the unexpected - ranging from predicting behavior of nearby drivers to figuring out when an object in the road is a harmless plastic bag or an undercarriage-crushing rock.

And perhaps most importantly, the driving public needs to come to grips with what it wants from autonomous vehicles, which hold the promise of reducing accidents and fatalities but may not be perfect.

In May 2016, a man died when his Telsa crashed into a big rig while operating in the car maker's self-driving software mode known as Autopilot. U.S. regulators determined that Telsa's software functioned properly in the Florida accident but Autopilot requires full-driver attention at all times.

In March, Uber briefly suspended autonomous car testing after a crash in Arizona, which officials said wasn't the fault of the self-driving vehicle. It occurred when a nearby motorist failed to yield.

"We really expect our autonomous cars to do much better than us, otherwise we are not going to use them," said Gabriel Rebeiz, an electrical and computer engineering professor at the University of California at San Diego.

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Posted and Edit by 04/09/2017