In May, 2018 every major Russian media outlet (TV, magazines, automotive blogs, etc.) covered the story featuring StarLine’s Smart Car.
This is an important milestone in national scientific developement: StarLine has launched an autonomous (self-driving, pilotless) passenger car – a Škoda. The first of its kind in Russia. The vehicle has already been succesfully tested on actual city roads.
An autonomous car is a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input.
Pilot Test Drive
As the vehicle succesfully completes its pilot test drive, the StarLine team greet their ‘heroes’ – the inventors of the technologies that make the SmartCar tick:
StarLine Smart Car In The Press
ScPA “StarLine” was invited by the Rosavtodor state road agency to introduce our SmartCar to five of their staff members, who were set to test-drive the vehicle. The ‘official’ pilot test drive of the SmartCar was successfully completed on the Crimean bridge entrance way.
The test drive took place on the part of the A-290 Novorossiysk-Kerch public motorway (the route leading to the Crimean bridge from Krasnodar Region), which had been specifically prepared for this purpose — in order to ensure that the test drive runs smoothy and is safe for the participants and onlookers.
Five different autonomous vehicles took part in the event. The developers were seated on the back passenger seats, supervising the process.
This hasn’t been easy… My team and I have been working around the clock for two weeks straight. We had tested the SmartCar locally, but this time we were provided with an actual motorway all to ourselves, and with that, obviously, an opportunity for reasonable acceleration. Our previous local tests were conducted at a speed of below 15 km/h, and now we were presented with a challenge to bring the speed up to about 40 km/h, therefore – many pressing issues arose that we had to react to on the spot.
So, while preparing for the test drive, we debugged the system and adjusted the ‘safe speed’ threshold to 60 km/h, fine-tuned the SmartCar’s steady straight-line corner motions at higher speed, and, in addition, streamlined the adaptive cruise control, so that the car could keep a steady distance of the moving object ahead, regardless of the speed. As a result, in our opinion, everything turned out well, and we demonstrated the features of our project – StarLine’s SmartCar – to reasonably high standards.
The three autonomous vehicles that took part in the experiment, reached 40 km / h as the maximum running speed during the test drive, and carried out a range of pre-determined tasks, such as lane changing and driving through traffic junctions. Each vehicle has travelled a distance of over 10 km autonomously. All three vehicles have demonstrated good standards of pilotless maneuvering, high precision of their respective satellite positioning equippment, and impressed with other artificial intelligence features, particularly the ‘laser vision’ technologies – the hi-tech special-purpose audio/video systems responsible for ‘event analysis’, automatic detection and recognition of static and moving objects around the perimiter of a moving vehicle, as well as ensuring prompt and precise identification of road marking and traffic signs.
Along with a team of developers, StarLine’s SmartCar was tested by Mikhail Chernikov, police major general, head of the Main Directorate for Traffic Safety of the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation; his afterthoughts:
As the Russian Ministry of Transport reports, – this was the first official large-scale supervised event of its kind, and it has marked the completion of the first stage of the “CARAVAN” project cycle; a project aimed at surveying the roads and undertaking a host of testing procedures to assist in the planned adjustments to the infrastructure of public roads, in order to accomodate semi- and fully-autonomous vehicles set to hit the roads in the near future.
As the acting Minister of Transport, Maksim Sokolov, notes:
The Deputy Minister stressed that the test drive, in which StarLine’s SmartCar took part, will also serve as a basis for the relevant laws to be enacted, that will govern the use of autonomous cars on public roads.