I was at CES in Las Vegas this year and managed to get a ride on Induct's driverless vehicle Navia on a closed track, traveling at 12.5 mph. That’s pretty safe. I’m not sure I’m ready to relinquish my control as a driver in my car yet to software, high tech LIDAR, and cameras.
Commercial aircraft has been flying with auto-pilot and autonomous approach and landing software for a while, but they don’t have to deal with pedestrians darting out in the roadway, the driver in the next lane who spilled his coffee and is swerving into you, or the person in the car behind you texting who does not see the traffic slowing down (texting, looking in the mirror, on the phone, etc.) and is quickly approaching your rear bumper about to be “bumped.” I love the way Nuvation’s CEO, Mike Worry, looks at the issue and would make it illegal for humans to drive cars. I have to agree.
On the bright side, there are many ongoing developments in software and electronic controls that are very promising to autonomous vehicle safety and ultimate implementation. Let’s take a look at some of these efforts.
University of Waterloo
Steven Waslander and Nuvation have made a good team in the autonomous vehicle circuit with their articles and test track platform to prove out theoretical schemes. Mike Worry, a graduate of the University of Waterloo's Electrical Engineering program, has a four-year research agreement with the University of Waterloo to identify new products for autonomous vehicles.
Autonomous vehicle dynamics are critical to the safety of passengers and pedestrians and other vehicles on the road. Those dynamics, used by controllers in autonomous vehicles, need to be well understood and rigorously tested in order to declare an autonomous vehicle safe. Some recent controller designs are making an effort to operate the vehicle close to the tire friction limits in order to maximize vehicle performance.
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