Self-driving golf carts a competition to Google car?

New York, Sep 2 (IANS) In a six-day trial in Singapore, scientists have successfully tested self-driving golf carts that ferried 500 tourists around winding paths used by pedestrians and cyclists.

The vehicles are instrumented but not as heavily as, say, the Google car.

As part of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), the experiments also tested an online booking system that enabled visitors to schedule pickups and drop-offs, automatically routing and redeploying the vehicles to accommodate all the requests.

“We would like to use robot cars to make transportation available to everyone,” says Daniela Rus, professor in Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) department of electrical engineering and computer science and a senior author on the paper.

“The idea is, if you need a ride, you make a booking, maybe using your smartphone or maybe on the internet, and the car just comes,” Rus added in a statement.

The researchers asked participants in the experiment to fill out a brief questionnaire after their rides.

Nearly 98 percent said they would use the autonomous golf carts again and 95 percent said they would be more likely to visit the gardens if the golf carts were a permanent fixture.

“We are taking a minimalist solution to the self-driving-car problem,” Rus added.

“We believe that if you have a simple suite of strategically placed sensors and augment that with reliable algorithms, you will get robust results that require less computation and have less of a chance to get confused by ‘fusing sensors’,” the authors noted.

The team was scheduled to share the findings at the “International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems” in Germany this month.

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