TrackTrainer Autonomous Vehicle Apes Driving Experts to a Tee

Posted on September 24, 2012

The self-driving car is on its way.  At this point, it really does seem more like a matter of when than if.  We’ve previously reported on the ways that automakers are attempting to wrest control of a vehicle from humans’ error-prone hands, and now a columnist with the Wall Street Journal is offering up his own take after being involved in a test-run.

Unlike other autonomous technology, this latest test first required an expert driver to navigate a closed course.  Laguna Seca’s Mazda Raceway, which offers a wide variety of driving challenges along a picturesque California backdrop, recently hosted a BMW 330i equipped with TrackTrainer technology.  However, it wasn’t until after the human-led course run that the real fun began.

See, that’s when the technology really starts to blow minds.  The columnist was able to crawl into the vehicle and sit back while the BMW perfectly aped the movements of the pro driver.  Using a combination of track maps, GPS, and telemetry, the vehicle was actually able to record the path just taken and then follow the same route, perfectly mimicking every hairpin turn and stunning maneuver.

Indeed, the vehicle was able to drive better than your average human just by instantly learning how the pros do it.  It’s enough to give the writer pause, wondering how long it’s going to take before such systems completely displace humans behind the wheel.

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