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Self-Driving Golf Carts


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The autonomous golf carts (shown here) deployed in the Singapore public gardens relied on a few unobtrusive sensors.

An experiment conducted by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology had self-driving golf carts carrying 500 tourists around a large public garden in Singapore.

Credit: Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology

The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) recently conducted an experiment in which self-driving golf carts carried 500 tourists around winding paths filled with pedestrians and bicyclists.  

SMART also tested an online booking system that enabled visitors to schedule pickups and drop-offs at any of 10 locations scattered around the garden, automatically routing and redeploying the vehicles to accommodate all of the requests.  

"We would like to use robot cars to make transportation available to everyone," says Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Daniela Rus, one of the project's leaders. "The idea is, if you need a ride, you make a booking, maybe using your smartphone or maybe on the Internet, and the car just comes."

After the experiment, 98 percent of participants said they would use the autonomous golf carts again, and 95 percent said they would more likely visit the gardens if the golf carts were a permanent fixture.  

"We believe that if you have a simple suite of strategically placed sensors and augment that with reliable algorithms, you will get robust results that require less computation and have less of a chance to get confused by 'fusing sensors,' or situations where one sensor says one thing and another sensor says something different," Rus says.

The researchers will describe their experiment at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems later this month.

From MIT News
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