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Science
07 Jul 2018

AI algorithm can teach cars to self-drive in 20 minutes

Wayve, a startup founded by two researchers from the Cambridge University, has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that can learn how to drive a car from scratch in 20 minutes.

Just like humans, the sophisticated neural network uses reinforcement learning to do so.

Instead of relying on external sensors and custom-built hardware, the startup wants to create autonomous vehicles which are entirely software-based.

In context

Startup teaches cars how to drive in 20mins
Car "penalized" for making mistakes, "rewarded" for successfully self-driving

Approach

Car "penalized" for making mistakes, "rewarded" for successfully self-driving

Wayve fitted a Renault with a camera and the ability to computer-operate the steering, gas, and brakes.

It was hooked up with a learning program to intelligently analyze the camera's data in real-time. Then the car was given full autonomous control.

Every time it off-roaded, a human driver corrected it. The algorithm accordingly kept tweaking itself, and within 20 minutes learned how to drive.

Under the hood

Deep learning methods and no-frills approach to driverless car development

The AI algorithm powering Wayve's self-driving system doesn't require any cloud connectivity or pre-loaded maps. It is a four-layer convolutional neural network that processes everything on a GPU.

According to Wayve, too much hand-engineering is currently deployed to solve self-driving car problems.

"The missing piece of the self-driving puzzle is intelligent algorithms, not more sensors, rules, and maps," co-founder and CEO Amar Shah said.

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Machine learning as the foundation of autonomous cars

Smart algorithms

Machine learning as the foundation of autonomous cars

Wayve said, "Imagine deploying a fleet of autonomous cars, with a driving algorithm which initially is 95% the quality of a human driver. Such a system would be almost capable of dealing with traffic lights, roundabouts, intersections."

"After a full day of driving and on-line improvement from humans, the system would improve to 96%. After a week, 98%. After a month, 99%," it added.

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