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The Aussie tech that puts cars one step closer to driving themselves

Getting hit by a car could be a thing of the past thanks to Aussie researchers who have developed technology that effectively gives vehicles X-ray vision.

Nov 02, 2021, updated Nov 02, 2021
New technology will allow cars to effectively have X-ray vision to avoid hitting pedestrians. (Image: Supplied)

New technology will allow cars to effectively have X-ray vision to avoid hitting pedestrians. (Image: Supplied)

The disruptive technology, created through a three-year collaboration between the University of Sydney, iMOVE and Codha wireless, could be a game-changer for intelligent transportation systems, or driverless vehicles.

Known as co-operative perception or collective perception (CP), it would track pedestrians unseen behind buildings and cyclists obscured by larger cars, trucks and buses using roadside information sharing units.

This means a car would in effect pre-empt pedestrian or cyclist movements.

The engineers and scientists developing the technology said it could benefit all vehicles, not just those connected to the system.

“This is a game-changer for both human-operated and autonomous vehicles which we hope will substantially improve the efficiency and safety of road transportation,” Eduardo Nebot from University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics said.

One experiment, tested on Sydney streets, successfully tracked a pedestrian obstructed by a building – seconds before the driver could possibly see the same person coming around the corner.

In another, the technology was able to respond to walking pedestrians.

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It also demonstrated the expected behaviour of a connected vehicle when interacting with a pedestrian rushing towards a designated crossing area.

“Using the ITS system, the connected autonomous vehicle managed to take pre-emptive action; braking and stopping before the pedestrian-crossing area based on the predicted movement of the pedestrian,” Professor Nebot said.

“The pedestrian tracking, prediction, path planning and decision making were based on the perception information received from the ITS roadside stations.

“CP enables the smart vehicles to break the physical and practical limitations of onboard perception sensors.”

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