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Highway Autopilot

Discussion in 'Cars and Transportation' started by jrreno, Jan 14, 2015.

  1. jrreno

    jrreno Nothin' left to do but smile, smile, smile

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    In all the postings and blogs regarding self driving cars and automatic driving systems I have not seen discussion about an obvious solution. For highways ( and I really mean the Interstates) would it not be an easy solution albeit expensive to embed guidance systems in the road infrastructure? Something the car could use to reliably position itself. It seems like this would be much easier to design than the complex array of cameras, gps and radar being utilized now. I guess forward sensing to stop would still be needed but the system could be designed to provide position information.
     
  2. robby

    robby Member

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    The hardware is all in the car because that's the easiest way to get it on the road. It's easier for Tesla to engineer its way around these problems than to lobby its way around them. If you think camera/GPS/radar is complex, wait until you see what it takes to change highway infrastructure bureaucracies. :)

    From an engineering standpoint, I also think highway embedded infrastructure would be more costly and complicated, and I'm not sure the end result would be any better. You still need radar for following and ultrasonics for safe lane changes. Maybe you can get rid of the camera but does it save you any money if you have to put a chip on every speed sign? You'd also sacrifice future uses of the local hardware, for example auto highbeams would not have come out as a firmware update if there were no camera.

    Just curious, what sort of embedded guidance systems do you have in mind?
     
  3. jrreno

    jrreno Nothin' left to do but smile, smile, smile

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    What got me thinking about it was the automated parts storage system we had at the company I worked for. There were wires embedded in the concrete warehouse floor an the cart followed them up and down the ailes. In the 80s before email we had mail carts that did pretty much the same thing following UV sensitive tape on the floor.
    I think one of the challenges for many of these automated systems will be weather. Heavy rainstorms like we have in Florida or a small amount of snowfall will probably disable the sensors. These scenarios would be ideal situations to have some automated help. I guess the alternative is to simply not travel in those conditions.
     
  4. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    Your point is valid - if the camera can't see the lane lines, the car won't know where the lane is, and it didn't take much snow the make the lines disappear (which is a problem for human drivers too...)

    However, is think there are cheaper alternatives than your smart road. For instance, we could install a string of radar corners every couple hundred feet (on the reflector poles) at a standardized distance from the outer lane on each side (twelve feet? sixteen?)

    If the car knew that the reflectors are always twelve feet from the lane, it can use a string of them to see not only the shape of the road, but also how many lanes there are and which lane it is in.

    This would involve new road work to install the radar corner poles, but the corners are cheap passive devices and would be relatively widely placed (the car had to be able to see several pairs at a time to establish the roadway.)
    Walter
     

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