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The idea of autonomous cars is no longer a dream of the far distant future. These vehicles are here right now and they are testing on public roads across the country. The reason we don’t all own one is largely due to the snail’s pace at which testing is done. New research found a way speed up testing and put fully autonomous cars in our driveways much sooner.

A study out of the University of Michigan determined the problem is the number of testing miles that don’t help developers learn anything. Think of it like your average road trip.

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Most of the time you’re cruising down the highway listening to music and sucking down the caffeinated beverage of your choice to stay awake. It’s miles and miles that don’t require much of the driver. The same is true for autonomous vehicles.

The problem with that scenario is it doesn’t let researchers learn anything. They need a way to test more complicated driving scenarios. They need a way to see how the technology will perform in rush hour traffic in downtown Boston at an intersection with a broken traffic light. That kind of stressful situation for human drivers is exactly what needs to be duplicated for autonomous test cars.

Huei Peng, director of Mcity and the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Michigan and Ding Zhao, assistant research scientist in the University of Michigan Department of Mechanical Engineering have a solution to the problem. In their white paper, the researchers propose a new way of testing that would require just 1,000 miles of driving to get the same results as up to 100 million miles of real-world testing.

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