The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 25, 2013

Carnegie Mellon developing driver-less car of the future now


Associated Press — "Changing lanes. Changing lanes," the female voice says, and the car does just that.

On its monitor, the vehicle shows it is in the middle lane with vehicles in front, on either side and behind it. "Caution. Entering Construction Zone," the voice announces after "reading" a sign alongside the roadway.

The car approaches traffic lights as they turn red. The car stops at the intersection. The computer has a bit of a heavy foot on the brake, like a 16-year-old learning to drive.

"It doesn't do anything that's unsafe, but it doesn't have the finesse a human has," Mr. Snider notes. "A human will really kind of round off the stop so it's not abrupt. Those kinds of things we look at also: How can we model those kinds of complex behaviors?"

The light turns green and the Cadillac moves along with the traffic. The surrounding drivers have no idea they are riding alongside the future.

After about two miles, the computer announces it is changing lanes, puts on its turn signal, eases into a turning lane and makes a left, crosses Route 19 north and then makes a quick right into a strip mall at 10 Francis Way. That was the destination Mr. Snider had given the computer. He then touches a button on the screen and the car drives itself back to the municipal park.

There, while stopped, it identifies on the screen pedestrians walking in front of it. Once it's safe, it begins to drive again, pulls behind a bicyclist, identifies it as "Bike" and slows to a safe distance behind it.

For the vehicle, which has yet to be nicknamed, it had been another successful drive at moderate speed in a traffic-controlled environment. Up next, testing on high-speed highways.

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