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USAD, Urban Shuttles Autonomously Driven

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This projects aims at the development of vehicles capable to drive autonomously in a urban setting, so to allow to increase the offer of public transportation to citizens, even in very low-demand conditions. These devices would allow reasonable costs for the service provider, and therefore for the customer, while providing a 24hours on-demand service. We believe this is the only option to support a decrease in the number of private-owned cars. Another potential application is the movimentation of goods in urban settings, so to obtain a city-wide low-cost public logistic system. Others are sharing our vision, see this page.

This research is aimed at the development of the enabling technology, i.e., autonomous navigation, which implies, in our view, to solve the perception side of the navigation. This research activity is led by IRAlab, Univ. Milano - Bicocca (http://www.ira.disco.unimib.it), and is perfomed together with AIRlab, Politecnico di Milano (http://airlab.elet.polimi.it), and Info Solution S.p.A (http://www.infosolution.it).



The specific aspects of the robotic research involved, w.r.t. extra-urban autonomous driving, is the need to localize the vehicle, despite the GPS absence and/or its not-good-enough accuracy. GPS might be accurate enough, in its differential RTK variant, but it do needs a given number of satellites in view by the vehicle antenna and, at the same time, by the antenna of a fixed base station; this is something that is is not easy to obtain, not only because of the temporary lack of enough satellites in view, but also because dense clouds, vegetation, and buildings, contribute to reduce the visibility of some satellites, therefore degrading the accuracy and/or fully disrupting the service.

The research requires to build very large maps of the city areas that will be traversed by the vehicle, a very computationally intensive activity that can be executed off-line. This map will be used to online localize the vehicle. These are the challenging robotics tasks we are tackling.

The vehicle requires also, and this is "normal" in autonomous driving, to dynamically build a local world model, so to control the vehicle: control steering, throttle, brakes, detect and track obstacles, people, animals, etc.

This set of tasks, i.e., offline global world modeling, online localization, online local world modeling, and control, are the same tasks on which the well-known team at Google, aka as the Google Car team, is working under the directions of S. Thrun (Stanford) and colleagues form Carnegie Mellon.

The vehicle we are currently using for this activity is an ordinary golf cart, which has been trasformed so to be controlled directly by a computer (i.e., it has been robotized).

Demos and Events

Demo with Geo Scienza, RAI 3 (national television)

Outdoor Demo with RAI 3 (national television)

Demo at the Electrical Intelligent Vehicles Fair 2010

The demo was aimed at demonstrating autonomous driving, although it was planned to take place indoor. It was quite similar, for what concerns the robotic functionalities required, to an indoor mobile robotics demo than to real autonomous driving (this is not true for the vehicle mass, dynamics, and dimensions).

Media documentation of the preparation activity for the Electrical Intelligent Vehicles 2010 Demo. Serious and funny.

Current development status

Please see the Cart components page for an up-to-date description of each component of the Cart.

Agenda for the next event


A new project to convert all with:

But actually we don't have time to work on it so we decided to have intermediate step:




Montaggio i7 a bordo cart

Control software

Provided documentation

Paperwork and Bureaucracy related to the Cart

Project history

CartControlBoards: control board evolutions during ages

EIV 2010 Configuration

Interesting links

Personal tools