One of the largest hurdles facing autonomous vehicles is cost. The technology to implement driverless cars is already here. Google, Audi and other companies have proved over and over again that the tech is viable and at least theoretically safe for public streets, but few people feel comfortable shelling out the $75,000 premium it would take to make your car chauffeur you about.

Ionut Budisteanu, a 19-year-old student from Romania, may have found a way to make autonomous driving tech more affordable. Budisteanu won a $75,000 scholarship in the International Science and Engineering Fair for creating a system that uses a cheaper, lower-resolution three-dimensional radar system paired with a webcam in place of the pricey high-definition 3D radar Google uses.

As a result, Budisteanu was able to cut costs from $75,000 to $4,000. His system uses artificial intelligence software to identify curbs, lane markings and other small objects on the road with the webcam while the radar system locates people, cars and houses. In his tests, the system performed as intended 47 out of 50 times. He believes he can improve accuracy with a slightly higher definition radar system while still keeping costs low.


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  • 48 Comments
      Tarantula
      • 1 Year Ago
      And all the drunk drivers shall rejoice.......
      thedriveatfive
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just wait, this kid will run a fortune 500 one day.
      vizcarmb
      • 1 Year Ago
      Damn nerds, why do they have to be so smart
      Firefly
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm thinking about all the municipalities that will ultimately lose citation revenue should this be implemented. No more speeding tickets because and autonomous car would always drive posted limits and obey all traffic rules it is programmed to. No more red light cameras, no more speed cameras, etc. Someone in municipal government is going to be sorry as hell should this ever fully become the norm. Then they'll start taxing the crap out of us in other ways...
      Nemours
      • 1 Year Ago
      already patented - 8,417,490 - these systems were demonstrated in 2001-8
      EJD1984
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't want a self-driving car. I'd rather have a self-driving living room. :-) http://www.michelinchallengedesign.com/MCD_2011/mcd_2011_gallery_d27.php
      biopsea
      • 1 Year Ago
      hope he can use some of that scholarship money to buy some crest whitestrips.
        Majerus
        • 1 Year Ago
        @biopsea
        wth, that is your first thought? Hope the kid does well...
        Henry
        • 1 Year Ago
        @biopsea
        Really? That's the best you can come up with? Jealousy has you all wrapped up in drivel you can't even control.
        Jerry
        • 1 Year Ago
        @biopsea
        Dude, cut him some slack! He probably drank coffee and/or tea by the gallon while working on this project!
        Iosif Bogdan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @biopsea
        Because of this kind of value system something useful to everyone costs 15 times more in America.
        belfagor
        • 1 Year Ago
        @biopsea
        yes, so he can become a 90210-like brainless faux-life-celebrity-wannabe teenager. Right on!
        Dr Zoidberg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @biopsea
        America seems to be obsessed with perfectly straight white teeth and the media love to knock anyone or group (nation) that doesn't meet with their ideal. This is nature not manufactured science.
      interruptive_cow
      • 1 Year Ago
      I hope first prize was a pack of crest white strips
        roller146
        • 1 Year Ago
        @interruptive_cow
        First prize was actually a $75,000 scholarship
      EXP Jawa
      • 1 Year Ago
      So, what happened the other 3 times? 47 out 50 sounds good, but that means 6% of the time it crashed. Granted, it\'s developing technology, so I guess that\'s to be expected and it will improve. The cost savings he achieved is certainly nothing to laugh at...
        mawhalen53
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EXP Jawa
        From the linked article: "In three, however, it failed to recognize some people who were 65 to 100 feet (20 to 30 meters) away. He said slightly higher-resolution 3-D radar should do the trick and still keep costs at a fraction of Google's." Very impressive achievement, congratulations Mr. Budisteanu.
      Gene Mack
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm willing to bet that those not sure why people want autonomous cars, also only drive less than 15,000 miles/year. Those of us that are on the road for a living (and there are a lot of people on the road, other than truckers) count every second until we can have self-driving cars!! Our company policy used to be that we would fly to anyplace that was over a 6 hour drive. But with the hassles of flying these days, we routinely stretch that to 8 hours. I average 40k-50k miles per year and this is pretty standard for people in my industry. And most of this is normally done after "normally working hours", as you work city all day, then travel to the next city in the evening/night for meetings in another city the next morning. To be able to kick on the "auto-pilot" and be able to take a mental break and physical break would be worth every dollar. I actually view this as a safety system, because I can guarantee this thing would be more alert driving on those nights than I am. (for full disclosure, I am in the automation industry, so I am biased already to the safety record of robotics and automation system...)
        Jesus!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Gene Mack
        I disagree. I drive tons and love it. Its freedom. Riding in an autonomous car takes that freedom away. As for my concerns, what happens when these things malfunction(and they will)? What happens if a light is out or roads are poorly marked or have fading paint lines or none? There are just too many what ifs for me. Im pretty good at paying attention to the people around me, and prefer me to make the decisions rather than a machine. Good Lord people are lazy.
          r_r
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jesus!
          You may be better than a computer at this point, but hundreds of million others aren't. They would benefit from this technology. And, in a few years, computer will be better than you in identifying obstacles and other variables in micro second and makes decision in another micro second. It may lead to a few fatal accidents, but it will prevent million others.
          Gene Mack
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jesus!
          I think you are making the false assumption that autonomous car is an either/or proposition. I love to drive also (honestly, would I be reading Autoblog if I didn't love driving and cars?), but the ability to put it in auto-pilot, when needed, is the "killer-app" here.
          Gene Mack
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jesus!
          And I forgot to address your safety concerns - there are safety protocols in the industry that are followed to address all of your concerns. And you just summed up the best argument YOU should be making FOR autonomous cars - most people can't drive worth a damn!!! You might be good at it (and I am sure you are, or you probably wouldn't be reading Autoblog too), but most people are just really bad drivers. Autonomous cars will actually make the roads much safer. I'd much rather have a computer making decisions at millions of times per second, then a distracted driver making a single decision in what seems like seconds.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Gene Mack
        Gene : You are not thinking this through. If self driving cars arrive, you will be kicked to the curb and out of a job. You think they will pay you to push a button and then kick back and have a nap?
          Gene Mack
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          Ice - I'm not being paid to drive, I'm being paid to design and sell robotics. I just happen to have to drive all over the I-75 corridor in order to do that. Amazingly enough, large cities aren't the ones giving tax breaks for large corporations to come to their towns. So most of the places I go are, literally, in the middle of corn fields. Well, they started out that way, until the cities grew up around them. So I won't lose my job, just make my job easier. Truckers and cab drivers would be the only ones in jeopardy of losing their jobs. Most other people "on the road" or only commuting, albeit very long distances.
      Nick B
      • 1 Year Ago
      Look at the canines on that kid! He's from Romania. Dracula was from Romania. Interesting....... Kidding aside I welcome autonomous vehicles. 90% of the population cant drive and arent interested in becoming better drivers so I say let a computer drive for them! That way guys like me who LIKE driving and actually pay attention while behind the wheel can enjoy a safer and more pleasurable commute.
      biopsea
      • 1 Year Ago
      ok ok - i apologize for my vapid comment. unnecessary, but as a dentists' son, i notice teeth! but autonomous automobiles? i am confounded by the seemingly huge interest in this technology.
        Charles Chen
        • 1 Year Ago
        @biopsea
        It's pretty easy to see why Google would be interested: it gives them more opportunities to advertise to you as you sit in traffic using your Android phone or your integrated Google Chauffeur (TM) software. They get to track your location and understand your shopping and dining patterns to better tailor ads to you with more local specificity. Pre-smart phones, I don't think people were ready for this. But with the pervasiveness of smart phones nowadays, I think people have come around. Rather than just sit in traffic, I bet most folks would prefer to let their cars drive themselves while they play Angry Birds or browse Facebook on their phones.
        EXP Jawa
        • 1 Year Ago
        @biopsea
        It isn\'t that confounding. Your dishwasher runs through its cycle with no input from you once you turn it on, doesn\'t it? To many, many people, a car is an appliance and driving is a necessary chore. It seems like the interest is, then, pretty self explanatory.
          GR
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EXP Jawa
          biopsea, You have clearly never seen "Garden State".
          biopsea
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EXP Jawa
          @GR Love garden state, but she was pushed over a broken dishwasher. ;-)
          EXP Jawa
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EXP Jawa
          biopsea, that only illustrates why there\'s need for the technology to improve before it sees the lime light. As I pointed out elsewhere, 6% of the time, it didn\'t operate properly or crashed. But that has no bearing on the actual question and answer here. You asked why there was interest. I answered that. Safety of the system is an entirely different discussion.
          Charles Chen
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EXP Jawa
          @biopsea That's kind of a silly statement given that many appliances that malfunction could lead to death including a lawn mower, a dryer that catches fire, a heater that leaks gas into the home, etc.
        Jesus!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @biopsea
        Money im sure. But really, that survey a few days ago is useless. Unless every person in the world is asked that drives or rides its worthless.
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