Ohio State Researchers Working On Car That Will Drive Itself

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Technology could soon make getting behind the wheel a lot less work.

A mockup at the Center for Automotive Research is where so-called intelligent transportation systems are brought to life.

"What you see behind me is an indoor test bed that we test our initial ideas of how a driverless vehicle should behave,” explained Arda Kurt, OSU Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

Kurt said the small-scale roadway has everything you would see on an actual road, including painted lines, a red light and mini driverless cars.

“These cars, or these robots in the smaller scale, either have a bunch of sensor-like cameras or radars that they use to detect other traffic and pedestrians around them.  They also have wireless communications capabilities between vehicles and traffic lights. For instance, they get all this data and they try to form a picture of their environment, a computer understanding of their environment,” said Kurt.

He said that the cars take all that data and make their own decisions about speed, turns, stops, and lane changes.  

Kurt provided videotape demonstrating how driverless cars waited until other cars made stopped at stop signs and then made turns, continuing on their way.

He said the driverless car could provide commuters with many new options.

"The most practical reason that I feel is that no one likes to commute. So, if you can have this capability on your car, talking about Columbus, you can drive up to 315, push a button and read your morning newspaper till you come to the exit that you're going to take on 315, and take it from there, initially,” explained Kurt.

Kurt said in most cases, you will be safer in a driverless car because the car pays attention when drivers do not.  

Driverless cars are now legal in California and Nevada.

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