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VTT's autonomous cars take to public roads and start communicating with each other

Marilyn, the first automated car to be granted a road traffic testing permit in Finland, and its spouse Martti have taken things to a new level together and started exchanging information with each other and their driving environment. They will take the next step in their relationship in the autumn, when the public digital infrastructure can also talk with the couple. The automated cars developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland can hear, see and sense, and Finnish intelligence hums in their brains. They are able to follow a pre-programmed route and avoid collisions with sudden obstacles without input from the driver. The cars currently require the lane markings or sides of the road to be visible. This is, however, only the first step; by 2020, the cars will be driving in more demanding conditions on roads covered in gravel and snow. “Our cars already have enough equipment required for automated driving, and now we are taking the most out of them with software technology. The challenges range from small to big ones, but that’s fascinating,” says project manager Matti Kutila from VTT. The autonomous cars feature a thermal camera for observing people and animals; a stereo camera and radar for high-resolution scanning of the vicinity; laser scanners and long-range radars for seeing farther; and GPS/Glonass receivers for positioning. The cars also have inertia units for determining direction and accelerations. The actuators are cylinders and motors. The sensors and actuators are connected by intelligence that creates a situational awareness and controls the actuators so that the car moves as planned at an accuracy of milliseconds and centimetres.”

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