It’s not exactly C.L. Pritchett on a dirt track. Course, CL didn’t have algorithms, GPUs, and sensors.
The Georgia Tech researchers are pushing autonomous vehicles to their limits to find how much speed and rough handling they can take before losing control.
These tests, however, stand out from a typical Mcity autonomous run. Georgia’s two test vehicles are one-fifth scale size, and the run at speeds up to the equivalent of 90 mph for a model car.
The cars run at top speed, spin into turns, drift, and even try to jump, according to the Georgia Tech News Center.
The scientists hope to learn just how far an autonomous vehicle can go before it careens out of control.
Learning that can help develop better autonomous cars, according to the researchers from the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering (AE) and the School of Interactive Computing (IC) at Georgia Tech.
“An autonomous vehicle should be able to handle any condition, not just drive on the highway under normal conditions,” said Panagiotis Tsiotras, an AE professor. “One of our principal goals is to infuse some of the expert techniques of human drivers into the brains of these autonomous vehicles.”
(That’s kinda what the Bandit did with the Trans Am. To be clear, the test cars are not chased by Sheriff Buford T. Justice ).
The custom-built vehicles are about three feet long and weigh about 48 pounds.
They use algorithms and are outfitted with sensors to keep them firmly earthbound. The researchers call their method MPPI, for model predictive path integral control.
The MPPI algorithm continuously samples data coming from global positioning system (GPS) hardware, inertial motion sensors, and other sensors, all processed by a GPU on the vehicle.
The system conducts real-time analysis of possible vehicle movements, and controls handling decisions to keep it on the track.
The research was conducted at the school’s Autonomous Racing Facility, and was sponsored by the U.S. Army Research Office.
Here’s a video for dirt track fans.
Photo: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech. Left to right Georgia Tech students Sarah Selim, Brian Goldfain, Paul Drews, Grady Williams.