Look Ma! No Hands! UA tests driverless car
Imagine never having to drive. You're free to -- text -- eat -- read -- do whatever you want -- sitting behind the wheel. Sounds great? It could happen sooner than you think.Photo: Video by kgun9.com
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- Imagine never having to drive. You're free to -- text -- eat -- read -- do whatever you want -- sitting behind the wheel. And better yet -- your kids won't need driving lessons.
Sounds great? It could happen -- sooner than you think.
Engineering and computer science students at the University of Arizona are turning a hybrid Ford Escape into a driverless car -- taking "Look Ma, No Hands" to a whole new level.
10 junior and senior undergraduates took part in the 10-week summer National Science Foundation Research Experience.
The students created the technology to remotely drive the driverless car, or Cognitive and Autonomous Test (CAT) vehicle, and took it on a test run in a parking lot on campus.
The vehicle is controlled by Ethan Rabb, a computer science student, who simply pushed the enter key on his laptop to get it moving.
But in the future, he said, "It would be like Google Maps. You would go into it and take it to this address. And the car would absolutely do everything else."
The driverless car is equipped with an emergency stop button and an emergency manual override -- just in case.
But it's this spinning gadget -- a 3-D sensor -- on the top of the hood that keeps it from crashing.
"Anything around the car we'd be able to see," said Rabb. And that sensor is why you won't see this driverless car on city streets anytime soon.
"That's an expensive sensor," said Dr. Jonathan Sprinkle, the project's leader. "It's more expensive than most people cars. I think it runs at this time at about 75-thousand dollars. So most people aren't willing to spend that."
But they're working on that. Part of the research includes figuring out how to make it affordable for families. They predict a fully functional driveless car will be built in 5 years.
And it could be 20 years before everyone has them in their driveways.
Google is also developing technology for autonomous cars. And since competition drives innovation it's possible that we'll see more of these driverless cars taking over city streets -- sooner than we think.