colinneagle writes "Several autonomous cars have been developed elsewhere, most famously by Google, and they are generally capable of identifying objects in the road directly ahead of or behind them. The challenge undertaken by MIT researchers is making these cars aware of dangers lurking around corners and behind buildings. MIT PhD student Swarun Kumar showed a video of a test run by the MIT researchers in which an autonomous golf cart running the technology, called CarSpeak (PDF), encountered a pedestrian walking from the entrance of a building to a crosswalk. The golf cart stopped roughly five yards ahead of the crosswalk and waited long enough for the pedestrian to walk to the other side of the road. The vehicle then continued driving automatically. The solution Kumar presented is based on a method of communications that is intended to expand the vehicle's field of view. This can be accomplished by compressing and sharing the data that autonomous vehicles generate while they're in motion, which Kumar says can amount to gigabits per second. In a comparison test, a car using CarSpeak's MAC-based communications was able to stop with a maximum average delay of 0.45 seconds, compared to the minimum average delay time of 2.14 seconds for a car running 802.11, the report noted."
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