2011 IEEE symposium reports results from Autonomous Vehicle Challenge

autonomous_vehicle_300x200viac26 October 2011 – Results from the VisLab Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge (VIAC) – a project in which driverless, green-energy vehicles completed a 15,000 km trip – were revealed at the 2011 IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium. The VIAC, partially funded with a five-year grant from the European Research Council obtained by the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society (IEEE ITSS) president, showed that vehicles may someday be able to move goods between continents without the need for drivers.

The vehicles successfully transported goods from Parma, Italy to Shanghai, China between the months of July and October 2010. Each vehicle utilized sets of high-tech equipment that included cameras, laser scanners, GPS, and sensors. They also contained computers responsible for processing images and data, path-planning, steering, accelerating, and braking. A lead vehicle set the route by continuously collecting data through experimental tests on sensing, decision, and control subsystems. It drove autonomously in mapped regions of the trip, but drivers had to take control in some occasions. The second vehicle, which was 100 percent autonomous, automatically followed the route defined by the lead vehicle, following it either visually with the use of cameras or using GPS waypoints. The vehicles were propelled by batteries charged at power outlets or by generators while solar panels on the vehicles’ roofs powered their autonomous driving systems.

The VIAC is considered a major milestone in vehicular robotics. Research results were widely publicized at the IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium, the premier annual forum of the IEEE ITSS, and in the September 2011 issue of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine. For more information on the VIAC, visit the project’s website, or read more about the project at IEEE Spectrum.