This Robot Will Make Any Car Self-Driving
June 19, 2019
Car and Driver – It may not be the future we want, but it’s undeniable that autonomous vehicles are coming. In the not too distant future, car and driver will become one and the same. But does that mean every car and truck on the road will need to be replaced with specially designed autonomous vehicles?
Israeli startup IVObility has a better idea. It is developing a robot capable of driving ordinary vehicles.
The company’s name combines “Intelligent Vehicle Operator” and “mobility” and is the work of Prof. Hugo Guterman of BGU’s Laboratory for Autonomous Robotics. Having already developed an autonomous underwater vehicle (a self-piloting submarine) called the HydroCamel, Prof. Guterman’s team is now shifting its focus to dry land.
Where most self-driving-car projects remove the vehicle’s operations from the driver’s seat, IVObility’s device literally sits right in it. The robot is almost humanoid in appearance, with a torso, a lap, a head full of sensors, arms to turn the steering wheel, and legs to work the pedals. Not quite Robocop in an ’86 Ford Taurus, but not that far off, either.
Because the “limbs” are mechanical, it doesn’t require the vehicle it’s operating to be fitted (as most self-driving prototypes do) with drive-by-wire controls. Instead it relies entirely on its own cameras to virtually see what a human driver would see from behind the wheel.
Chief Executive Officer Tzvika Goldner told Car and Driver that IVObility aims to launch its driving robot by the middle of next year and intends to offer three versions. Most will be fully autonomous, but some will offer more cost-effective, semi-autonomous capability or remote-controlled operation.