AI News, Stanford students program autonomous robots that mimic self-driving cars

Stanford students program autonomous robots that mimic self-driving cars

“So, in a way, it is a sort of miniature city where self-driving robots are moving around in a way that is analogous to how a real self-driving car would behave in the world.” For this demonstration, the robots’ full mission was to map the miniature city, find animals along the way, report back to an emergency responder headquarters and then return to each animal, as though guiding the rescue crew.

The compact robots were outfitted with laser sensors to help them locate and record obstacles, cameras to enable detection of animals – in this case represented by photos of cats, dogs and one elephant – and an on-board computer.

“I knew a little bit about everything before but being able to implement it on a real robot and seeing the challenges that happened – like getting the navigator to play nice with the image detector – has been really fun,” said Laura Matloff, a graduate student in mechanical engineering who took the course this winter.

“So that’s really something that we’re trying to emphasize: How do you piece all of these complicated parts together to make a whole that works?” Beyond convincing an elaborate array of hardware and software components to act in harmony, where teams really displayed their creativity was in how their robots dealt with the unexpected.

“Just a few years ago, this kind of project would have required large teams of researchers and significant investments,” said Pavone, whose lab develops planning, decision-making and artificially intelligent algorithms for autonomous robots, such as self-driving cars, drones and autonomous spacecraft.

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