AI-powered car goes ice skating

29th November 2023
Paige West

Researchers at the University of Surrey recently conducted an innovative experiment at Guildford Spectrum, testing a car powered by AI for anti-skidding capabilities on an ice rink.

The trial, deemed a ‘huge success’ by the team, signifies a significant leap in the development of driverless vehicle technology, particularly in enhancing road safety in adverse conditions.

The AI-equipped car was driven around the ice rink for 90 minutes, a setting that provided a unique opportunity to test traction control in slippery conditions. The researchers gathered more data than anticipated, which is crucial for refining the technology. The AI system in the car is designed to detect when the wheels are spinning too rapidly and adjust the power to prevent skidding.

This technology was tested on the University's ZEBRA car, an acronym for Zero Emission test Bed for Research on Autonomous driving. The primary goal is to use AI to develop a reliable method to prevent skidding on icy or wet roads.

Carmine Caponio, an automotive engineering researcher at the University of Surrey, expressed satisfaction with the performance of the system. “Our system appeared to work very well, and we must now analyse our data and prepare for further tests," he said. He also highlighted the uniqueness of the opportunity to test this technology on ice, a privilege typically reserved for large industrial companies.

The use of the car's driverless function was instrumental in the trial, allowing researchers to control the vehicle's acceleration with greater accuracy. This led to more precise and consistent testing conditions.

Mario Mihalkov, another researcher from Surrey’s Centre for Automotive Engineering, expressed optimism about the broader implications of their findings. “We hope our findings will be of great interest to car makers – and can help make driving safer in slippery conditions for millions of drivers," he stated.

The success of this initial test has paved the way for further research, with the team planning to return to the rink for more tests in early 2024. The potential impact of this research is vast, with implications for enhancing road safety in adverse weather conditions. As autonomous vehicles continue to evolve, incorporating AI-driven safety features like anti-skidding could be critical in reducing road accidents and saving lives.

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