Thursday, April 28, 2016

When the rubber ducky hits the road

Paul Leroux
Rubber duckies are born multitaskers. They can serve as bath toys. Or race for charity. Or track ocean currents. Heck, they can even act as crash-test dummies in tiny autonomous vehicles. Don’t believe me? Then check out the following video from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, otherwise known an CSAIL.

Kidding aside, CSAIL has a launched a graduate course on the science of autonomy. This spring, students were tasked to create a fleet of miniature robo-taxis that could autonomously navigate roads using a single on-board camera and no pre-programmed maps. Here is the (impressive) result:

The course looks like fun (and I’m sure it is), but in the process, students learn how to integrate multiple disciplines, including control theory, machine learning, and computer vision. Which, to my mind, is just ducky. :-)