A Lincoln MKZ equipped with patented Ranger technology navigates cones at Southwest Research (Photo Credit: LENNON MALDONADO)
A Lincoln MKZ glides easily through a tight figure eight of cones on Southwest Research Institute's San Antonio, TX Campus.
Researcher Mark Alban isn't driving, though behind the wheel, as the car completes its route.
"We can pretty much drive anywhere the computer can plot a path" says engineer Kris Kozak.
Kozak uses a mounted tablet to select where the car should go and the car accelerates towards the cones once again.
Kozak and Alban created the technology that allows us to move safely without a driver. It's called Ranger. It uses a downward facing camera to fingerprint the road and uses the images to determine where it is. Kozak says Ranger drives more precisely than any other device. He says the car knows where it is within two centimeters.
The technology can run pre-mapped routes really well, but would need additional technology to help with situational awareness.
A pedestrian walking alongside the campus road causes Mark Alban to take back control of the car.
"We would have passed them, but probably closer than I was comfortable with," he explained.