Robotic car learns to slide park

At the 2010 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) last week, group of scientists presented video of the robotic car’s parking procedure. Mentioned automobile, called Junior, was developed by the Stanford Racing Team. It was introduced to the world in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge in 2007, where the car drove almost flawlessly and came second. Since then, the team have been working on teaching Junior to do more complex maneuvers.

In normal driving the car’s computer adjusts the brakes, steering and fuel systems with a closed-loop system using data collected from sensors. But the dynamics are much harder to predict and model in a complex maneuver such as spinning and sliding into a parking spot. The team then tried an open-loop process in which they simply repeated the control inputs to try to end up with the car in the same place each time. The problem with this method was that there was no correction of errors when the car was traveling in a straight line, and this could change the car’s final position. The team then combined the two methods, using the closed-loop control while the car was approaching, and then smoothly switching to open-loop control for the spin and slide into position. The decision when to switch between the two modes of operation was made by the car’s software, based on observation, and the result is impressively placing the car in exactly correct place. Original news was published at physorg web site.


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