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MIT Teaches Students About Autonomous Cars Using Rubber Ducks

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duckietown MIT autonomous cars

As technology advances, we are getting closer and closer to seeing fully-autonomous vehicles on our roads. Many drivers already own cars with semi-autonomous safety technology, such as lane-departure warning and emergency braking. But just how this technology works is a mystery for many. In order to help students learn about autonomous cars, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) created Duckietown.

Video: See Duckietown in Action

Duckietown is, quite literally, a model city where 50 rubber duck-taxis (“duckiebots”) interact autonomously. The duckiebots can read road signs, road markings, and the movements of each other perfectly in order to navigate the city safely. Students at MIT can sign up for the advanced autonomy class, where they will be able to build duckiebots using simple algorithms and basic hardware, while learning the ins and outs of autonomous driving technology.

duckietown MIT autonomous cars

The project isn’t going to be solely used as a fun class at MIT, though. Duckietown will also be used as a research project, an outreach effort, and a role play exercise. In addition, Duckietown is open source and reproducible, so schools and developers across the country could help expand the project over time. CSAIL certainly hopes that others will come on-board to expand the project, as well as kick-start more ambitious projects designed to teach people about autonomous technology.

While projects like these are designed to help more people learn about autonomous and connected car technology, automakers like Toyota are committing to testing it on a much larger and real-world scale. The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, will soon become the world’s biggest connected car proving ground, thanks to the automaker’s partnership with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

Video: Duckietown at Night

Cool Duckietown at night from Duckietown Engineering on Vimeo.

News Source: Tech Crunch

  • Cat HilesManaging Editor

    Catherine Hiles is a native Brit currently based in Dayton, Ohio. Don't ask how that happened. Cat has written about a variety of subjects, from dog training to fashion, and counts running and cooking among her hobbies. Cat lives with her husband, Ben; their daughter, Rose; and their collection of animals, including an energetic mutt, an elderly basset hound, and a jerk cat. See more articles by Cat.