Jul 16, 2012 08:13 AM EDT
MIT Researchers Develop Intelligent Co-Pilot for Cars
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an intelligent co-pilot for taking control of the car in case the driver meets up with any obstacles and is on a collision course.
Sterling Anderson, a PhD student in MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Karl Iagnemma, a principal research scientist in MIT's Robotic Mobility Group have developed a new semiautonomous safety system which uses an onboard camera and laser rangefinder to find out obstacles on the vehicle's travelling path.
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The researchers devised a smart algorithm that allows the system to analyze various data including the car's stability and driver's performance to identify certain constraints. It monitor's the driver and takes over the control of the car when the driver crosses the constraints, for example if there is a barricade and the driver is about to hit it, the co-pilot system smartly takes the control to avoid collisions and hands the control back when it feels it has reached a safe zone.
The researchers have performed trial runs of the system around 1,200 times and have been successful for the most part except few collisions which happened due to some technical glitch in the camera lodged on the system.
According to experts, such systems which uses a co-pilot is much better than self-driving cars as they use costlier sensors and needs more to work out on identifying the safe zones.
"The implications of (Anderson's) system is it makes it lighter in terms of sensors and computational requirements than what a fully autonomous vehicle would require," Benjamin Saltsman, manager of intelligent truck vehicle technology and innovation at Eaton Corp, told MIT News. "This simplification makes it a lot less costly, and closer in terms of potential implementation."
The team is now working to prepare the system to identify the obstacles using a cell phone. The researchers hope that cell phones can use camera and accelerometers to give the necessary information needed for the system, which runs in the background to check the driver's performance.
As the technology takes us to a new level almost every day, the idea of using cars has also changed. Google introduced its robot cars alias driverless cars to avoid collisions and save human life. General Motors and Ford too have announced plans to make semi-autonomous cars.
With several automobile makers investing huge money to build cars with advanced system, we can be sure that either robotic or semi-autonomous cars will rule the roads in the future.