Most of us probably consider ourselves good drivers, but what if our cars helped us to be better? The engineers at the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS) are developing the future of driving—a future that may not need us behind the wheel.
“We’re not necessarily looking at power train, tires, brakes, and so on,” says Sven Beiker, Executive Director at CARS. “We’re really looking at autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles, to some extent electric vehicles. So all these things are emerging, and we’re trying to find the answer: where’s the idea of individual mobility really going with all of this?”
Beiker says there’s still a long way to go before public deployment of these advances. “You can have these things on a closed course with professional drivers, or non-drivers, right? But if you really want to have these in your neighborhood streets, it’s a completely different story. You really want to make sure that the sensors work, that the algorithms work and so on, and that’s what’s happening here. You really make sure that a vehicle can distinguish between a trash can and a child—which sounds a little bit funny to make this comparison, but if you look at the size of these objects, it’s about the same thing.”
Krisada Kritayakirana is a fourth-year PhD student in mechanical engineering at Stanford, who has been working on a car that helps his team study vehicle dynamics. What’s so cool about that? “This car can race by itself,” says Kritayakirana, “and it’s probably better than you.”
Stanford CARS: http://me.stanford.edu/groups/design/automotive/