Cruise, a startup company founded by Kyle Vogt, co-founder of Justin.tv, Socialcam and Twitch, has developed a technology that allows cars to become self-driving “robots”. Unlike Google’s approach, Cruise has built a system that can mount to existing vehicles for use on highways and leisure driving. The technology actually resembles a more advanced cruise control rather than a self-driving car. Nonetheless, the company is building a revolutionary autopilot system in which they hope to be able to install in all vehicles.
We’re trying to reuse as many concepts and behaviors as you already have in your car, such as a single button to control the cruise control,” says Vogt. “Whatever speed you’re going becomes the target speed.”
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The technology is called Cruise RP-1, and it costs around $10,000 and a few hours to install. Cruise RP-1 has three main components: sensor units which go on top of the car near the windshield, actuators which control the steering and driving, and a computer which goes in the trunk and takes up about one cubic foot of space.
The technology works just like a cruise control button that most vehicles already have, but with some additional perks. When you drive onto a highway and merge into a lane, you’ll be able to hit a ‘Cruise’ button on your dashboard. The system will take control of the car’s steering, braking, and acceleration to keep you in your lane. Cruise RP-1 kicks in at a desired speed, but unlike traditional cruise control, it can bring the car to a stop and navigate through stop-and-go traffic. It also keeps the driver in the center of the lane without the driver touching the steering wheel.
The system and installation also comes with an application which shows the driver everything the RP-1 sees. It allows you to monitor your surroundings, speed , and comes with lane marker detection right on your phone.
Vogt’s justification for this self-driving car technology is for saving lives.
There are 30,000 deaths a year from car accidents. Ninety percent of those are caused by humans,” he said. “When you put a computer in a car, each one of our systems has this corpus of knowledge from thousands of hours of driving. It never gets distracted and never falls asleep. If we have technology that can compensate for the shortcomings of people, we have a responsibility to do something about it.”
Where to Buy?
You can see more of the Cruise RP-1’s features on the main website at getcruise.com, and pre-orders for 2015 installation start today! Cruise RP-1 is only compatible with Audi A4 or S5 vehicles but the team of MIT engineers plans to expand the product line in the upcoming year.
After learning about this new technology to hit in the upcoming year and possibly the future of cars, would you be willing to pay $10,000 for such a system? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and be sure to follow the discussion on other topics here.