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AVS commemorates 25th anniversary of first highway pilot


Last week, the 2017 edition of the Automated Vehicles Symposium took place in San Francisco. For three days, numerous North American initiatives in automated driving, as well as important European ones, were presented to an international audience. Breakout sessions covered for instance behavioural responses to automated vehicles and data sharing models.

One of the highlights was a specific session to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Automated Highway Demo. Started in August 1997, this was the first pilot project to see an automated car drive on US highways. The US National Automated Highway System Consortium (NAHSC) presented a proof of technical feasibility demonstration of automated driving. It took place on I-15, in San Diego, California. You can read more about the project and its result here. Back in 1997, the announcement of the project promised that “highways of the future may feature relaxed drivers talking on the phone, faxing documents, or reading a novel while an automated highway system controls the vehicle’s steering, braking, and throttling and allows for ‘hands-off, feet-off’ driving.” It continued “A 12-kilometer, high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) segment of Interstate 15 located 16 kilometers north of downtown San Diego will be the site of the demonstration. This is a real highway – not a test track – and the demonstration “runs,” using contemporary cars, buses, and light trucks, will take place between the morning and afternoon rush hours. Each day, continuous demonstrations will run for about five hours in various sequences to test the AHS system in seven areas ranging from cruise control to obstacle detection. Members of Congress, congressional staff, state and local transportation decision-makers, and private-sector executives will be invited to experience the automation technology by riding in the demonstration vehicles. Viewing stands at strategic locations will accommodate 200 spectators.

The demonstration’s promotional video is available here and shows the steps that autonomous driving research has taken over the past 25 years.

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