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Racing drivers are taking autonomous cars to school

Just as it is with pretty much anything on this planet, there are different ways of approaching a particular problem or ways of doing things, and this stays true when it comes to autonomous cars. We’ve reported some time ago about the Google Car getting its driver license, and now we’re going to talk about a different approach coming from the scientists from Stanford University.

They’ve started looking into the minds of two professional racing drives in order to try and get some insight into how a skilled brain works in regards to steering corrections and car control, in the hopes that they could then incorporate their findings into Shelly – their autonomous car.

The scientists are examining the bodies and brains of two racing drivers, looking at their body temperature, heart rate and brain activity. They then compare the plethora of data that they gather from their electrodes with the similarly varied range of metric gathered from the race car through the use of accelerometers, laser sensors and gyroscopes.

By making these comparisons they want to record and monitor the relationship between the car and the driver during every step of the race; everything is recorded from periods of intense concentration to moments of relaxation when going through familiar turns and sections, the Stanford scientists want to know what’s happening.

The ultimate goal of the experiment is to analytically detail the traits and reactions that allow the human driver to rapidly adapt to the situation, in the hope to integrate these human-style dynamics into their autonomous car.

The major difference between Shelly and a human driver is that the car is set for a fixed course and isn’t able to adapt in a similar way to the driving conditions, say for instance how warmer weather will provide more grip because it the tires will be hotter.

We should also mention that these drivers did not in fact drive a modern era car; instead they drove a 1966 Ford GT40, because they needed the precise raw data on how the driver affects the car’s performances, not how the many electronic aids in today’s cars help stabilize a car.

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