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Mitsubishi Electric tests self-driving car

| Autonomous vehicles, Electric Vehicles, Japan, Mitsubishi | October 25, 2015

Mitsubishi Electric tests self-driving car

Autonomous vehicles of the future will use data fed from advanced satellites to navigate through narrow alleys and park even in snow, fog or the darkness of night, according to Mitsubishi Electric Corp.

The company on Oct. 14 demonstrated a prototype vehicle that draws on a guidance system that uses map data from “quasi-zenith” satellites that are more accurate than coordinates provided by GPS satellites. For the guidance system to work, the quasi-zenith satellites, which can pinpoint locations with an accuracy of less than 10 centimeters, are designed to constantly be in an orbit that passes over Japan.

The vehicle, dubbed Emirai 3 xAuto, is also equipped with a millimeter-wave radar to measure distance from other cars on the road and an infrared camera that can detect pedestrians and wild animals in the dark. By using the satellite-fed information, along with a 3-D map that notifies the car of the state of the road, the vehicle will know where to run, stop or turn, even when markers indicating the edge of lanes are not visible.

The technology also works on winding mountain roads, according to Mitsubishi Electric.

Only one quasi-zenith satellite, the Michibiki, is currently in orbit. But the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) plans to have four in position by the end of fiscal 2017, ensuring at least one will be above the nation at all times.

In comparison, standard GPS satellites often provide inaccurate data because of their varying positions in orbit. Mitsubishi Electric has participated in the development of the Michibiki and its sister satellites, and the company is eager to use the technology for road safety.

(Source: The Asahi Shimbun, Tech Insider)