jurvetson – Flickr

Hands-free Driving

The car drives itself. The passengers are being chauffeured by computer. Seen at the VAIL autonomous driving and parking demonstration at Stanford this weekend. Here’s a short video of this VW parking itself. The roof if festooned with spinning LIDAR and cameras, feeding into the server farm in the trunk. With more processing power, I’m guessing that the expensive laser rangefinders will be less essential as the 2D video cameras alone can render a 3D map of the world, much like our brain. In case you’re wondering, they do have an idea of how to hide all of that equipment, and with Moore’s Law, it will all be soon affordable. Example video with no people in the car. The next generation may wonder why we wasted 80% of the carrying capacity of our highways, why truckers fell asleep, or what all the fuss was about parallel parking.

Junior 3 - with discreet sensors

Still plenty of equipment in the trunk, but the external appearance looks like the regular vehicle – no bulky sensors or bolt-on equipment to be seen. Here’s a video of this VW parking at Stanford this weekend. No drivers. No remote control. It parks itself. A Bosch video cam is mounted discretely near the rear-view mirror, like a rain sensor (photo below). Bespoke scanning LIDAR sensors for 3D mapping are mounted behind each rear wheel and behind the front grill logo. With the sensors out of sight, the robocar was breath taking, like K.I.T.T. made manifest.

Robocar

The spinning LIDAR on the blue VW roof renders this real-time 3D image of the people all around. I am one of the white figures, and I could see my hand waving on screen Seemed spookily similar to the night-vision gunship videos... DARPA@Work P.S. The screen also shows the path the car drove before parking (triangles and dots)

Velodyne High-Def LIDAR

Eye-catching techno-bling on the roof of the autonomous VW Junior 2. $75K, with 64 laser beams, spinning like a whirling dervish, capturing a 3D map of the world and its inhabitants. This was a lucky catch, as it is spinning around 10 times/second, collecting 1.3 million 3D datapoints/second. Here is a Radiohead music video made with it. And technical details.
Bild: jurvetson

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