The attention-grabbing headlines about driverless vehicles tend to obscure the fact that there is a history to this exciting transportation mode. The trajectory of this history to the present time may portend a path towards the ultimate commercialization of driverless vehicles.
According to Business Insider, “…19 companies are striving to put driverless cars on the road by 2020. These companies include Tesla, Google, Uber, Toyota, BMW, Volvo, Ford, General Motors and Nissan, among others.
Much of the current driverless vehicle technology was pioneered by Carnegie Mellon University and culminated with a near driverless trip called, No Hands Across America. “During this tour of America, which was sponsored by Delco Electronics, AssistWare Technology, and Carnegie Mellon University, two researcher from CMU’s Robotics Institute “drove” from Pittsburgh, PA to San Diego, CA using the RALPH computer program.”
“RALPH (Rapidly Adapting Lateral Position Handler) uses video images to determine the location of the road ahead and the appropriate steering direction to keep the vehicle on the road. (The researchers handled the throttle and brake.)”
“RALPH decomposes the problem of steering a vehicle into three steps, 1) sampling of the image, 2) determining the road curvature, and 3) determining the lateral offset of the vehicle relative to the lane center. The output of the later two steps are combined into a steering command, which can be compared with the human driver’s current steering direction as part of a road departure warning system, or sent directly to the steering motor on our Navlab 5 testbed vehicle for autonomous steering control.”BMW, Carnegie Mellon University, CMU, Dean Pomerleau, Driverless Vehicles, General Motors, Google, History of Driverless Vehicles, SBIR Consultant, Tesla