Last April, Google announced that its self-driving electric cars have traveled about 700,000 miles on the open road, including thousands of miles on the streets near its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., which are more difficult to navigate than highways. The cars detect pedestrians, read road signs, and even understand when a cyclist gestures to make a turn, according to Google
Princeton has its own self-driving car project, led by Alain Kornhauser *71, a professor of operations research and financial engineering. His lab is developing a computer-vision system that uses six cameras to gather images of stationary and moving objects. Collision avoidance remains the most significant challenge for automated vehicles and requires more development, he says.
Under Kornhauser’s guidance, Princeton undergraduates have been incorporating the technology into a fully autonomous car that has competed in the self-driving car-race challenges held by the U.S. Department of Defense, making it to the semifinal round in 2007. Kornhauser expects autonomous cars will be on the road by 2020 and commonplace by 2025: “This is going to transform cities and the way we live.”