Cars that drive themselves

Why don’t we have cars that drive themselves yet? I’m thinking of a 4 tiered untrusted system. You don’t need to do it for every road, but the major routes would be nice – just so you can take your hands off the wheel between Canberra and Sydney.

Basically what I was thinking was that you have the car which uses IR (and any other) sensor to detect where the road goes. Then it looks at the GPS maps to see whether it’s actually turning that way. And it also looks at the previous history of the road to see whether it really did have a curve in the road last time we drove that way. It could easily be smart enough to tell the difference between the curve in a road and a lane change using the reflectors on the road.

Add in to this that there are external sensors which monitor your progress. These tell the car about the road, e.g. that it curves 4 degrees over the next 300m. These could also send something to the car to say “traffic has slowed down up ahead” or “car broken down in the far lane”, but thats an aside.

So the safety thing happens because there are multiple untrusted sensors. Basically if the car sees that the road is curving to the left, the GPS maps correspond with this, last time we drove this route it curved that way at this point, and the road itself is telling you it curves to the left by the same amount the GPS map does, then it’s hunky dory. If ANY of them are out, it alerts the driver and slows down, falling back to it’s own sensors until the driver takes over.

As for overtaking and all of that, some simple sensors can gauge where objects are around the car, if it detects a slow moving vehicle infront it can slow down or move to overtake.

So the sources of information are:

  1. The car’s own sensors
  2. GPS or other map data
  3. The previous trip’s data
  4. The road telling you stuff

It could be a fully automated drive, but you’d just market it such that the driver is watching, but the car is steering.

If you wanted it to be fully automated, you’d put the passengers in padded pods which are nuke proof so that in the event of a crash the occupants come out OK (too bad about the guys in the other car).

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2 Responses to Cars that drive themselves

  1. gemmell says:

    (Called Cooperative Vehicle-Infrastructure Systems or CIVS for short)

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