Stanford’s Sebastian Thrun is my hero for steering the Stanford DARPA Urban Challenge project to success. Thrun is one of the hired-guns on Google’s high intensity project (think a bit on the technologies that might enable robo-cars: the synergy of AI + mobile + localization + GIS database). I am very curious how much of the Google robo-car algorithms depend on real-time data coming down from their cloud. Nobody can match Google’s cloud for auto-driving:
(…) So we have developed technology for cars that can drive themselves. Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research.
Our automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other traffic, as well as detailed maps (which we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead. This is all made possible by Google’s data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain.