Try as they might, proponents for autonomous cars will always struggle to argue that a computer can drive safely around man-operated vehicles. That is, unless a group of scientists from Standford’s Revs program have their way.
Last weekend, those researchers monitored the brain activity of two race car drivers as they piloted vintage cars around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The aim was to better understand what allows them to drive faster and smoother at high speeds than normal motorists.
Ultimately, the team hopes to incorporate what it finds into the next set of steering controls for their self-driven car, Shelly, seen in the clip below.
“Skilled drivers are highly adaptable and use a number of tricks based on their experience to drive that line quickly, yet smoothly,” Stanford Professor Chris Gerdes said. “This is actually our inspiration in designing the next generation of steering controls for Shelly.”
Data from the drivers along with information gleaned from the 1966 Ford GT40 they will be driving, which has been outfitted with lasers, accelerometers and gyroscopes, will offer valuable information. Once gathered, the team should have a good idea of what goes on in the mind of a skilled driver, even if they aren’t conscious of it.
Most immediately, this research could be used to help drivers recover from situations where their cars are pushed beyond their limits. The safety software would go a step further than current traction and stability controls by helping to correct the vehicle instead of cutting power to the wheels.
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