Researchers at MIT have built a self-driving car that doesn’t rely on the intense amount of technology needed to make self-driving cars work in urban environments. Instead, the car is meant for use on rural roads.
MIT calls the technology Maplite. The new technology works by combining GPS data with Lidar and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensors that collect data on angular velocity and linear acceleration instead of looking for road markings.
In its first tests, Maplite worked exactly as it was designed to and was able to detect the road ahead more than 100 feet in advance.
MIT researchers eliminated the need for expensive dense mapping used by companies like Google’sWaymo or GM’s Cruise Automation and have designed a way for cars to maneuver without road markings. Maplite sensors generate a path to get from point to point and estimate the road edges with LIDAR technology. Maplite technology makes assumptions on road grades in the area around where the car is being operated.
Ultimately, Maplite-equipped vehicles will be able to work in the U.S. on rural roads while providing a way for other parts of the world to take advantage of the technology as well.