Self driving cars are becoming less of a Sci-Fi invention and more of a certainty for the future as more and more scientists invest time and money into bringing such models to reality. Tesla and Google are only two of the big companies working on developing self-driving cars. NASA also has its own take on an autonomous vehicle. Their invention is able to perform several impressive maneuvers seeing as its technology is borrowed from the astronaut rovers.
The “Modular Robotic Vehicle” or MRV was descried by NASA as being a fully electric self-driving vehicle that is perfect for all kinds of busy environments. The car has fly-by-wire driving system and four independent wheels that are also known as e-corners. These elements allow the car to drift without difficulty, drive sideways and even rotate with ease.
“The MRV would be ideal for daily transportation in an urban environment with a designed top speed of 70 km/h (43 mph) and range of 100 km (62 mi.) of city driving on a single charge of the battery,” explained Mason Markee of the Johnson Space Center, the place where the MRV was designed. “The size and maneuverability of MRV gives it an advantage in navigating and parking in tight quarters.”
The MRV has no mechanical links to its steering wheel. A computer and sensor system interpret all inputs received by the car. As such it is also great for remote and autonomous operations. The downside of this self-driving vehicle is that in case of failure all control and steering would be lost. As such, the car also features back-up motors and computers.
“It’s like driving on ice but having complete control,” added NASA’s Justin Ridley. “It’s a blast to ride in and even more fun to drive. We’ve talked about it being like an amusement park ride.”
Did you know that the technologies used in this self-driving vehicle are going to play an important role in the development of the lunar and Mars rovers?