A More Affordable Autonomous Vehicle

by Admin on July 10, 2014

Since the first DARPA Grand Challenge in 2004, there have been many leaps and bounds made in the development of autonomous vehicles. For a few years Google has been the frontrunner in this race, with fully autonomous vehicles commercially available and expected to be on the market by 2025. However, now a small 4 person start-up from MIT called Cruise Automotive says that they can have a product ready by 2015 that could make any vehicle autonomous.

Cruise RP-1Image from GetCruise.com

The product is called the Cruise RP-1, and is basically an autopilot for highway driving. The driver is still expected to pay attention to the road in case of an emergency, but it will make things considerably more safe. It consists of 3 main parts: the sensor pod, the computer, and the controls. The sensor pod is what becomes the eyes of your vehicle, and it is mounted on the roof. Unlike the autonomous car from Google which uses LIDAR (Light Detection and ranging), the RP-1’s sensor pod uses a combination of radar, cameras, and other sensors to “see” its surroundings. This method of sensing allows the RP-1 to be much cheaper than any of its LIDAR-using counterparts. All of the information that the sensor pod gathers is then sent to the computer, which is mounted inside of the vehicles trunk. The computer then uses this information to determine control the vehicle appropriately.

The controls for the RP-1 are very simple. All you need to do is press a button and it will engage. There are a few ways to bring control back to the driver, including pressing the button a second time, manually steering or tapping the gas pedal.

Currently, the Cruise RP-1 is only available for the 2012 (or later) Audi A4 and S4, but they are planning on making it accessible for all vehicle models sometime in the near future. At $10 000 it isn’t necessarily within everyone’s price range, but it is vastly more affordable than most other autonomous options.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: