This was the theme for the “Self Driving Vehicle” meetup group on a rainy evening on June 6th in Somerset, New Jersey. Led by Praful Mathur, a data analyst/ software engineer and CEO of Derivatived, the meeting was geared to bringing together resources to build one of the world’s first open-source driverless cars.
The impressive lineup featured presentations from Professor Tyler Folsom out of Washington (via teleconference) and Professor Rick Anderson from Rutgers University. Among their notable list of achievements, Dr. Folsom co-founded Cogneta to commercialize driverless vehicle technology, while Professor Anderson, an expert in Arduino, significantly expanded the university’s simulated environment as director of Virtual Worlds at Rutgers.
Throughout the professors’ presentations about their experience, one could envision their contribution to the group’s ambitious end goal. For example, putting real world car data (such as speed and radar statistics) into a simulated environment to help code an algorithm on how a driverless car should react on the road. Approximately 50-60 members showed up- predominantly programmers & engineers. As such, the presentations catered to this technical crowd, yet did not completely exclude laymen.
As Praful addressed his meetup group, he laid out a general game plan for building a self driving car: create a virtual world for testing, hook up cars to sensors for real world data, implement basic algorithms, and find a car with an easy to program interface. He advised taking the Udacity “Artificial Intelligence for Robotics” course to build a technical foundation to contribute to the project. In his own words, “by next summer, September 1st (2014), we want a drivable self driving car on the highway…”
Overall, the meeting seemed like somewhat of an intellectual pump up session. The meeting had it all: the venue, the leadership, the potential team, and even live streaming! It was the first gathering of a promising venture that could lead to a viable open source autonomous vehicle.