Originally published in New Atlas, July 5, 2018
For today’s leading deep learning methods and technology, attend the conference and training workshops at Deep Learning World, June 16-19, 2019 in Las Vegas.
A pair of artificial intelligence Ph.Ds from Cambridge University are going all-in on machine learning as the foundation of autonomous cars. Their company, Wayve, has just released video of a kitted-out Renault Twizy teaching itself to follow a lane from scratch, over the course of about 20 minutes.
Wayve’s Amar Shah and Alex Kendall believe there’s been too much hand-engineering going on as people try to solve the self-driving car problem.
“The missing piece of the self-driving puzzle is intelligent algorithms, not more sensors, rules and maps,” says Shah, Wayve co-founder and CEO. “Humans have a fascinating ability to perform complex tasks in the real world, because our brains allow us to learn quickly and transfer knowledge across our many experiences. We want to give our vehicles better brains, not more hardware.”
With that approach in mind, the team took a Renault Twizy, kitted out with a single camera on the front and modified with the ability to computer-operate the steering, gas and brakes. They hooked it up to a graphics processing unit capable of intelligently analyzing the camera data in real time, and ran a learning program based on experimentation, optimization and evaluation.
They put the Twizy on a narrow, gently curving lane. A human driver sat in the driver’s seat, then handed full control over to the car, not telling it what its task was, and let it experiment with the controls.
Every time the car went to drive off the road, they stopped it and corrected it. The algorithm “penalized” the car for making mistakes, and “rewarded” it based on how far it traveled without human intervention. Within 20 minutes, which represented less than 20 trials, the car had worked out how to follow a lane more or less indefinitely.
About the Author
Loz has been one of our most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he’s branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only New Atlas contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he’s often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.