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A driverless robot car with brains may be road ready by 2030, according to Sebastian Thrun, a great mind in self-driving vehicle development

Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Francisco, Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford University computer science and electrical engineering professor, estimated that robot-driven cars will be road ready by 2030

Thrun cited strong advances in the development of artificial intelligence as one of the main reasons that the world could see driverless cars by 2030.  Along with not having a human driver controlling the car, new vehicles should also function properly in a simulated city environment.  
Thrun is regarded as one of the world's most successful and innovative manufacturers of self-driving vehicles.  Thrun's team previously won a $2 million prize after "Stanley," a modified Volkswagen Tourage, won a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contest in October of 2005.  Another DARPA challenge in November will feature rule changes that force teams to have their cars obey traffic laws, deal with obstacles and basic road conditions, other vehicles, etc.

It is more likely that robot-driven cars will be seen on battlefields and other hostile environments rather than public roads any time soon, according to Thrun.

Stanford plans to enter "Junior," a converted 2006 Volkswagen Passat that has had its throttle, brakes and steering altered so a computer is able to control them.  The car will be navigated via satellite GPS, with a number of lasers located on Junior's bumpers -- the lasers will be able to look multiple directions and has a range up to 50 yards.

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And BattleMechs will be here soon as well.
By TimberJon on 2/19/2007 4:01:00 PM , Rating: 2
Which can rely on brute mechanics, industrial strength servos, cable systems for muscle-simulation, Diesel for movement and electrical power and some kind of Howitzer or light naval cannon for firepower. Yea, while thats my dream too, I don't see it happening soon.

I see many flaws with this statement.

1) He has been watching too much iRobot, Minority Report and/or Demolition Man.

2) Lasers and rangefinders are great, even when tied to a powerful computer/software combo. BUT! 50 yards is nothing if some drunk idiot is coming at the vehicle at 100mph from out of the 50 yard range.

3) Based on #2, how accurate are those lasers at 50 yards? Is it more like 30 yards actual? When a fast-moving vehicle enters that zone how fast can the computers calculate its movement speed and heading? Fast enough to avoid the car AND other obstacles?

4) You would need the highest quality, nearly EMP-shielded electrical components for every critical system in that vehicle, and then redundant backups. Your life is at stake. If my life depended on the lightbulbs in my brake light assembly, I'd be dead.

5) Freedom of driving? As illustrated colorfully in Minority Report (which I do love) Everything looked like it was Railless MagLev, and computer controlled. But I dont think they were controlled by the CPU's in the vehicles themselves. I'm betting it was more like a Citywide central authority program. A governance system, that directs all vehicles based on destination, weight, model, Etc..

I dont think we will have roads THAT SMOOTH to support such a thing.

6) His statement is correct about having robot or AI controlled vehicles by 2030, because they will be out there, but only on test roads or testing facilities. I doubt that we would allow fully AI-controlled vehicles on the road with mind-controlled drivers. BMW or Lexus might put some of that technology to use. I believe auto-slow down and Preliminary-braking systems are already in use, monitoring a vehicle in front of it and pre-emptively slowing down when it starts to get close. THATS useful, and I support it, but make that damn thing redundant..

RE: And BattleMechs will be here soon as well.
By masher2 on 2/19/2007 6:07:36 PM , Rating: 3
> "Based on #2, how accurate are those lasers at 50 yards?"

A lot more accurate than your eyes will ever be.

> "would need the highest quality, nearly EMP-shielded electrical components ..."

EMP-shielded? Planning on driving through many nuclear blasts?

> "How fast can the computers calculate its movement speed and heading? "

Computer today can calculate the speed and heading of an ICBM fast enough to intercept it. Planning on driving Mach 21 anytime soon? I won't even mention that computers in 2030 will run a few hundred times faster than todays.

> "Your life is at stake..."

Your life is at the stake of your brakes also, and yet that doesn't stop you from driving. A computer-controlled vehicle is going to be far safer than you driving it yourself.

> "I don't see it happening soon..."

In 1950, most people thought travel to the moon was impossible as well.

By Grast on 2/20/2007 4:54:37 PM , Rating: 2

there are many more sources of emp than a nuclear blast. Very large solar flares can cause emp like effects in our atmospher. These at this point in time can not be predicted.

I believe a previous poster is correct though in regards to the most likely scenario is a master control program (MCP) (hehehehe) governing the flow of traffic.

I digress, the main point of the previous poster was the desire to make the vehicle as safe as possible.


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