Industry powers autonomous vehicles
During a test demo before the upcoming Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge on Nov. 3, the autonomous racecar Lone Wolf was recently made available for ride-alongs to industrial representatives, local media, and engineering students from the University of Minnesota. The event was hosted by Comtrol, a manufacturer of data communications products used to connect and control peripheral serial devices in industrial automation applications, military sensor devices, process control, and manufacturing automation devices, and transportation/traffic monitoring and control systems.
The Lone Wolf from Insight Racing has entered the DARPA Urban Challenge, part of a U.S. Congress-mandated research initiative to ensure that by 2015, one-third of military vehicles will function autonomously in an effort to help isolate troops from roadside threats. The car’s programming allows it to maneuver in traffic without human assistance. Comtrol’s DeviceMaster allows real-time data to be fed from Sick vehicle laser measurement system (LMS) sensors to on-board computers, enabling the vehicle to “see” obstacles, navigate the terrain, and react to intersections, other moving vehicles and traffic laws. Sick is a producer of sensors and sensor solutions for industrial applications.
“We’re thrilled to be part of this important collaboration with Insight Racing, Sick, and participating in an initiative to help save lives in military combat is an honor,” said Comtrol Vice President Bradford Beale. “We’ve offered data communications products to military and industrial applications for a quarter century, but with this and many more applications in queue, we’ve really struck a chord with modern culture.”
The racecar has been featured recently by the Discovery Channel and BBC Films. Its technology is expected to offer many opportunities for enhancement of future automobiles. Control Engineering’s Automated Vehicles blog also featured Lone Wolf on Aug. 13. Access it through the Control Engineering home page.