AP says: Driverless car navigates Berlin streets:
“By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER, Associated Press – Tue Sep 20, 10:52 am ET
BERLIN – It can talk, see, drive and no longer needs a human being to control it by remote. The car of the future — completely computer-controlled — is on the streets of Berlin.
All summer, researchers from the city’s Free University have been testing the automobile around the German capital.
The vehicle maneuvers through traffic on its own using a sophisticated combination of devices, including a computer, electronics and a precision satellite navigation system in the trunk, a camera in the front, and laser scanners on the roof and around the front and rear bumpers.
“The vehicle can recognize other cars on the road, pedestrians, buildings and trees up to 70 meters (yards) around it and even see if the traffic lights ahead are red or green and react accordingly,” Raul Rojas, the head of the university’s research group for artificial intelligence, told reporters at a presentation Friday.
“In fact, the car’s recognition and reaction to its environment is much faster than a human being’s reaction.”
The scientists have worked on their research car, a Volkswagen Passat worth euro400,000 ($551,800) with lots of built-in special technology, for four years.
Several other groups have also been working on such technology recently, notably Google, which has been testing a robotic Toyota Prius in Nevada.
“There’s a big trend for completely computer-controlled cars — many companies and research centers in several countries are working on it and it is hard to say, who’s got the most-developed vehicle at the moment,” Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, a professor for automotive economics at the University of Duisburg-Essen, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Dudenhoeffer estimated that with the technology advances, it could only take another decade for the fully automatic cars to start becoming available for consumers. “Even today’s cars are often partially computer-controlled, for example when it comes to parking or emergency brakes.””