MIT: Intelligent Co-Pilot For Cars


MIT Robotic Mobility Group has developed an intelligent Co-Pilot for cars to make your travel safe. The system was developed by Sterling Anderson, a PhD student in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Karl Iagnemma, a principal research scientist in MIT’s Robotic Mobility Group. The system comprises of an array of sensors that includes a camera and onboard laser rangefinder that constantly looks for any potential threat on the road. The system if finds that the driver exits the safe zone, would take the control of the wheel. The team says that the algorithm is designed exclusively to identify barriers and vehicles and so providing an semi-autonomous assistance by keeping your vehicle inside the safe zone. This system also monitors the driver’s performance and makes the necessary adjustments to provide the maximum safety.

“The real innovation is enabling the car to share with you,” Anderson says. “If you want to drive, it’ll just … make sure you don’t hit anything.”

So far, the team has tested over 1200 times with only a few collisions. The system was found to be perfect when the few collision occurred, and the problem is found to be in the camera that fails to identify the obstacles.

The team also found an interesting thing from humans. The drivers who trusted the system tend to perform better than those who did not.

And what would the system feel like for someone who is unaware that it’s activated? “You would likely just think you’re a talented driver,” Anderson says. “You’d say, ‘Hey, I pulled this off,’ and you wouldn’t know that the car is changing things behind the scenes to make sure the vehicle remains safe, even if your inputs are not.”

He also stated that this system would spoil any beginners skill towards driving as he might think that he is better driver at the first driving. Without the negative feedback from their driving they would become more rash and sometimes they will become more dependent to the system than their skills. The team is now working to tailor the driving assistance for various levels of driving.

The additional proposal by the team is that they are trying to box it up in a cellphone by using its camera and accelerometer along with other resources feeding the system. “You could stick your cellphone on the dashboard, and it would use the camera, accelerometers and gyro to provide the feedback needed by the system,” Anderson says. “I think we’ll find better ways of doing it that will be simpler, cheaper and allow more users access to the technology.”

This post was first published on July 17, 2012.


Karthikeyan KC

Aeronautical engineer, dev, science fiction author, gamer, and an explorer. I am the creator of Geekswipe. I love writing about physics and astronomy. I am now creating Swyde.

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