Documenting the Coming Singularity

Friday, March 23, 2007

Drivers? We Don' Need No Steenken' Drivers!

Does the idea of sitting in a car that's being driven by a computer scare you? Well you might want to see a therapist about that because that might soon be the only way to get from point A to point B. At the University of Essex researchers have been developing an autonomous model car which will be tested on a race track at the Colchester campus this summer. Dr. Simon Lucas:
This project will push computational intelligence methods to their limits, and beyond. As far as we are aware, this is the first time a completely autonomous model car has been developed. Similar principles have been applied to full-size cars in the past - for instance in the DARPA challenge to navigate across the Mohave Desert - but the cost implications of developing the technology using real cars mean it just isn’t viable for most researchers. By using model cars, we will be able investigate the possibilities of the technology far easier and more cheaply...We envisage that the technology needed to develop our prototype could pave the way for a future where driverless cars are a reality. It is entirely possible that in the next 15 years we could see driverless cars being used in cities around the world, probably for specific transportation needs such as taxis or delivery vehicles. The potential real-world applications of the computer vision technology that we will develop are endless.

This isn't a remote control car, folks. It races by itself using "a combination of evolutionary algorithms and neural networks that can learn how to beat humans in racing games." NASCAR, here we come.