The News Today
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12.6.20
Out of the Shadows

MIT Research Lets Driverless Cars Spot Obstacles Around Corners

__Victor Tangermann__Filed Under: Advanced Transport
MIT

Seeing Around Corners

A team of MIT researchers claim to have developed tech that allows driverless cars to see around corners.

The hope is that the work could make autonomous cars preemptively aware of out-of-view hazards, including pedestrians and other vehicles, in order to slam on the brakes a fraction of a second early to avoid a collision.

X-Ray Specs

This is how the system works: cameras mounted to the top of the vehicle scan a specific section of road ahead of it and analyze it each frame for the presence of shadows.

If, for instance, the self-driving car is maneuvering through a parking garage, the new system would let it detect that a car is coming around a corner by detecting its shadow on the road ahead — even if there’s no line of sight between the two vehicles.

Natural Light

So far, the researchers have tested the system only in indoor settings without natural light, both at intersections in underground parking garages and with motorized wheelchairs in an office environment. The system isn’t ready for use on actual roadways yet, but the researchers are hoping it could become a valuable new tool to make self-driving cars safer.

“The big dream is to provide ‘X-ray vision’ of sorts to vehicles moving fast on the streets,” said Daniela Rus, director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, in a statement.

READ MORE: MIT Researchers Taught Autonomous Cars to See Around Corners [Gizmodo]

More on autonomous cars: We Took a Ride on NYC’s First Self-Driving Shuttle