CSIR studies autonomous vehicles

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 10 Mar 2008

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is advancing robotic technology and machine intelligence with the help of a University of Pretoria professor, the latest edition of the council's newsletter says.

Vehicle dynamics specialist professor Schalk Els is on a three-month sabbatical at the CSIR's mobile intelligence autonomous systems group to help develop autonomous ground vehicles navigate and drive entirely without human control.

"Els is specifically interested in the application of mobile intelligence autonomous systems in vehicle dynamics," the newsletter says.

Instead of a driver or a remote controller, the vehicle's onboard computer uses onboard sensors and positioning systems to determine everything they need to know about their environment to carry out their allocated tasks.

The newsletter adds autonomous land vehicles are a new field of study for the CSIR. It says Els is keen to develop a vehicle that can be entered into the US Defence Advanced Research Project Agency's (Darpa's) annual robotic vehicle challenge. Autonomous land vehicles are also a major focus at Darpa, which is in many ways a US equivalent to the CSIR.

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