A car really is driving through the Berlin traffic all by itself. The co-driver is only there to assuage the safety concerns of the German authorities. During several hours of driving round the city, the co-driver never once needed to touch the wheel. This is the latest driverless development of the Berlin Free University AutoNOMOS project.
Tinosh Ganjineh, the safety driver and project manager of the AutoNOMOS project said: “Our vehicle positions itself with a GPS receiver and it determines its position via a digital map. Information from the car’s sensors is gathered and processed on a central computer so that the vehicle can react to its surroundings. Other systems then control acceleration, braking and steering.”
Many of the technologies used in this autonomous vehicle are already incorporated into mass-production cars: the lane assistant, the adoptive distance control and the parking assistance. What is interesting for the future is the camera-based traffic light recognition and positioning improvement – because at the moment, position is based on a GPS receiver and that leads to problems in narrow streets and tunnels.
Professor Dr Raul Rojas, the project director, and head of the FU Berlin group Artificial Intelligence said: “Our vision for the future is that autonomous driving will make car sharing much easier. Because, you don’t have to go and pick up the car, then drive and then deliver the car in a parking lot. The car comes to you, you drive the car and then you release the car for other customers.”
All that remains is the small matter of getting the price down. This one cost 400,000 euros to build. But in ten years’ time we could start seeing these cars around and who knows? In the future, a driverless car could be completely normal.