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MIT Develops Self-Driving Scooter for Mobility-Impaired Users

Nov 08, 2016 09:59 AM EST

A team of researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) recently partnered with the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and the National University of Singapore to build a self-driving scooter and a golf cart to help impaired people move around freely, according to a news released on Inverse.

This is the first time that they have tested the vehicle indoors, and it works smoothly. Scott Pendleton, a student at the National University of Singapore, said in a release that they tested the scooter in the "Infinite Corridor" of MIT. Despite the dearth of distinctive features in the hallway, the algorithm functioned pretty well, according to Pendleton.

Prior to this, the team had demonstrated a self-driving golf cart and scooter at MIT's 2016 Open House, where more than 100 visitors took their chances riding them. The scooter can assist impaired users move down from the hall and make their way via the lobby. The scooter was used indoors, but the golf cart was tested outdoors to move through parks or parking lots. The team uses low-level algorithms in the scooter that can respond to changes in the environment in a short time. It has also been equipped with GPS to find out the location of the user and is available with an online scheduling system for rides.

People who rode the scooter were asked by researchers to gauge the safety level of the autonomous vehicles on a scale of 1 to 5. And to the delight of everyone, the average score was 4.6.

Researchers envision a future where such vehicles could be used in public institutions, airports, malls or anywhere in town for the benefit of people with mobility issues. Following the test, the trust factor among people seems to have improved significantly, indicating that the technology will become very popular.

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