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Retrofit kit allows cars to drive themselves

By

November 23, 2009

The Pronto4 installed on the steering wheel of a military vehicle

The Pronto4 installed on the steering wheel of a military vehicle

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Let’s say you want to go for a ride in your car, but you don’t feel like driving it. Or perhaps you want to drive your car, but you don’t want to go for a ride in it. These two seemingly contradictory scenarios are probably not what Kairos Autonomi had in mind when it developed the Pronto4 Agnostic Autonomy System. The Pronto4 is a drive-by-wire system that when installed in a vehicle, provides self-driving capability as well as remote control. The system is “agnostic” because it is a retrofit kit that the manufacturer claims can be installed in any steering-wheel based vehicle.

Let’s say you want to go for a ride in your car, but you don’t feel like driving it. Or perhaps you want to drive your car, but you don’t want to go for a ride in it. These two seemingly contradictory scenarios are probably not what Kairos Autonomi had in mind when it developed the Pronto4 Agnostic Autonomy System. The Pronto4 is a drive-by-wire system that when installed in a vehicle, provides self-driving capability as well as remote control. The system is “agnostic” because it is a retrofit kit that the manufacturer claims can be installed in any steering-wheel based vehicle.

Kairos Autonomi has designed the Pronto4 primarily for use by military and other government groups. By implementing a universal design, the manufacturer claims that these organizations can retrofit their existing ground vehicles (or even boats) without having to return them to the factory or otherwise take them out of the field. Indeed, several teams in the DARPA Urban Challenge use the system to develop their self-navigating vehicles.

The Pronto4 system leverages the existing infrastructure of a vehicle to integrate it power/computing, vehicle, and actuation subsytems. These elements include steering control, brake and throttle pedal controls, transmission control, and control of other functions such as lights, horn, and so on. The entire package weighs less than 50lbs and runs on the vehicle’s 12Vdc power supply.

Kairos Autonomi says that the pronto4 system can be installed using a “four-four-four” process: a team of four people can install the four system modules in about four hours. Once the system is installed, the vehicle can still be operated normally (that is, manually). But switch the system on and the vehicle is ready for remote-control operation, or even unmanned operation.

While a Pronto4-equipped vehicle is being operated autonomously or remotely, a human driver can simply tap the vehicle’s brake pedal to disengage the system, just as you would operate cruise control in your car.

The company also offers its ProntoMimic software suite that enhances the Pronto4 system with GPS guidance and path-following capability. This software offers path creation and following tools that use numerical data or aerial images, as well as GPS waypoint following. Other features of ProntoMimic include:

  • GPS system with dual antennae inputs
  • Magnetic compass and tilt sensor
  • Three axis inertial sensors
  • Multiple camera video management

Via Kairos Autonomi.

1 Comment

Ok, just combine this with your previously-reported Pontiac G8 police cruiser prototype http://www.gizmag.com/futuristic-cop-car/12165/ and we'll have Knight Rider!

alcalde
23rd November, 2009 @ 09:40 pm PST
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