Jul 19, 2023 - News

Ohio State is making driverless cars smarter

Illustration of a car with a brain at the top.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One way our roadways could become safer someday is by removing the variable of human error.

Driving the news: New software developed at Ohio State University is aiding the testing of driverless vehicles in safe places, such as empty parking lots, rather than public roads.

Why it matters: An increasing number of drivers are afraid of self-driving cars, while carmakers are pushing to add more automated features in newer models, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick reports.

How it works: OSU's software immerses the car in a virtual environment by telling it what the road looks like and what cars, pedestrians and potential hazards are nearby so it can maneuver accordingly.

  • Imagine giving a car a virtual reality gaming headset.

What they found: A recent study found the technique can help the car learn to avoid collisions, increase pedestrian safety and react to extreme traffic events, like a person jumping in its path.

The bottom line: "This ability saves time, money, and there is no risk of fatal traffic accidents," lab co-director Bilin Aksun-Güvenç, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, said in a statement.

Go deeper: How autonomous vehicles "see" the world around them


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