AutoX Can Make Any Car Autonomous With a Few $50 Webcams

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【Summary】AutoX, a San Jose, Calif. based startup started by founder Jianxiong Xiao, is looking to make autonomous technology more affordable by proving it can make a self-driving vehicle with $50 webcams.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Apr 07, 2017 12:15 PM PT
AutoX Can Make Any Car Autonomous With a Few $50 Webcams

There was a point when seeing a heavily-modified vehicle with various cameras, sensors, gadgets, and gizmos driving down the road would be a special moment. But now, the magic has worn off and seeing a vehicle that supposedly drives itself on the road isn't a big deal. So seeing another company or automaker come out with a press release that states they are going to enter the self-driving segment with a fully-autonomous vehicle in the near future just doesn't have the same allure it once had. 

What does peak our interest, though, is when a company claims it can make a driverless vehicle without the fancy LIDAR sensors, high-end cameras, and accurate GPS systems. That's where AutoX comes in. 

AutoX Swims Upstream

According to a report by Wired, AutoX can turn any vehicle into a driverless car with "nothing but a handful of cameras he bought at Best Buy for $50 a pop." In a segment where companies and automakers are paying billions of dollars to develop self-driving tech, AutoX's bold claim – if true – is remarkable. 

AutoX, the San Jose, Calif. based startup, was founded by Jianxiong Xiao. Xiao, as the report points out, left his position running Princeton's Computer Vision and Robotics lab last year to launch AutoX. The mission, according to Xiao's website, is to "democratize autonomy and make autonomous driving universally accessible to everyone." Needless to say, Xiao's history in robotics industry makes him an excellent candidate to be at the helm of a startup that looks to shake up the driverless segment. 

By moving away from expensive software and hardware, AutoX would be lowering the price of self-driving tech, as well as the price for the overall vehicle. This move would be good for drivers looking to get into an autonomous vehicle, without having to pay a substantial amount of money. Currently, the Tesla Model S is one of the few vehicles with nearly-autonomous capabilities and that electric vehicle starts at approximately $71,300. 

"Google has traditionally been the dominant, and lots of companies have tried to copycat their approach," said Xiao. "Professor X," as Xiao is also called, believes large companies can throw large amounts of money at the problem – getting self-driving technology on the road – but that doesn't necessarily mean the tech will be mass produced, reports Wired

Affordable Doesn't Mean Easy To Replicate

So what exactly did AutoX do to make its affordable self-driving vehicle? Wired reports that the startup placed seven cheap cameras around the outside of the car, giving AutoX a 360-degree view of car's surroundings. While other companies utilizes Differential GPS, which provides the vehicles location to with a few inches, AutoX uses the vehicle's existing navigation system. The tech may not be as accurate, but its much more affordable. 

AutoX may have made a driverless vehicle with affordable components, but Xiao claims that he will eventually incorporate LIDAR, other sensors, and more expensive parts to build a safe and operational system. The company also has plans to act as a supplier, providing other companies and automakers with the necessary equipment to make their vehicles self-driving, as well. 

As Wired points out, Xiao won't provide a timeframe for when his self-driving system will make it to the street, but claims the actual software could be ready in the next few years. 

via: Wired

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