“Life is way to short for boring cars.”

I recently stumbled upon a Ted talk on autonomous vehicles by Chris Gerdes, Stanford Mechanical Engineer. In his talk he discusses robotic race cars and the mapping of professional race car driver’s mental workloads in order to create a better autonomous vehicle. Previously the group built an autonomously drifting car and a car that tackled Thunder Hill Raceway, in various weather conditions, and Pikes Peak all without a driver. Now they aim to study actually race car drivers in order to create a more intuitive vehicle that can further push the level of ability of a driver.

One thing they noticed was a racer’s mental workload increased while navigating difficult turns but did not seem to change much during dramatic maneuvers, like when the rear of the car starts sliding out. This is likely due to it being an instinctual behavior and more similar to a reflex than a thought out procedure. They also noticed that in comparison to a calculated “fastest line” around a racetrack, a professional driver’s line is extremely similar (and they are able to replicate it in a variety of cars and conditions). Both of these examples show the amazing capabilities of a human and how far they can push a machine. So by studying the folks who push cars to their limits, the researchers hope to create vehicles capable of giving individuals a level of ability most of them have never seen.

See the Ted talk and videos of their other autonomous cars below.

Chris Gerdes Ted Talk –

P1 Autonomous Drifitng –

Shelly Autonomous Pikes Peak –

21. August 2012 by PJ
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