Highway Autopilot for $ 10,000
Not only Google is developing autonomous cars. The California startup Cruise Automation said it was ready to release a kit for upgrading a car much cheaper than Google: for only $ 10,000. True, the capabilities of such an autopilot are somewhat limited: the RP-1 product is positioned as "autopilot for the highway."
Since yesterday, the company began receiving pre-orders for 50 sets of RP-1, promising to begin their installation in 2015. True, there is one subtlety: the RP-1 so far only works on the Audi A4 and S4 (from 2012).
The description says that the driver must take the car to the track, select the lane, and then press the button - and the car will go on its own. The RP-1 controls the gas and brake pedals and the steering wheel.
There is one more nuance here: the autopilot only works on a familiar road, where it had traveled at least once before in “manual” mode. Developers plan in the future to add the ability to exchange road maps between cars. By the way, Google’s car robots are also able to drive only on familiar roads.
The driver has several options for how to return control: for example, to press the gas pedal or to take the wheel.
Testing of the RP-1 on California roads (namely, Highways 101 and 280) is ongoing. Developers say it requires another 6-9 months of testing before starting sales. In the future, the list of compatible cars will expand. Ideally, the RP-1 can be installed on any machine.
The RP-1 example is surprising for several reasons. Firstly, it was developed in record time: the startup was established only in November 2013. Secondly, he has already started selling, although testing is not completed. And, in the end, a rather low cost: for comparison, Google’s equipment for unmanned vehicles costs about $ 100,000, which is an order of magnitude more expensive.
The main structural element of the RP-1 is a set of sensors that are mounted on the roof of the car. There is a camera, GPS-receiver and other tools. The device was developed by a group of engineers, mainly from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The computer is located in the trunk.
RP-1 does not work in the rain, in fog, in the dark.