The next big thing from Stanford: Robotic Cars?

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Mike Montemerlo is one smart dude. He works on Stanford University’s DARPA challenge team which is building a robotic car that’ll be able to negotiate a course without humans being involved.

Anyway, we have a 30 minute conversation about the future of automobiles.

We talk about the algorithms he’s designing (he’s the lead software guy on the project). What the challenge is this year (last year the team won $2 million). What real-world-things this car could affect.

I think you’ll find this conversation fascinating.

The interview was done in Stanford University’s Computer Science department. The Bill Gates building. Can you imagine the guys who started Google meeting around this conference table and working out their plans?

35 thoughts on “The next big thing from Stanford: Robotic Cars?

  1. Excellent interview. Good choice of topics. Excellent choice of a person to interview. Mike Montemerlo is not only very smart, as was said above, he is also very personable. I wouldn’t doubt that he is the best young roboticist in the world. He got his intelligence from my wife (his mother). I am completely unbiased about all of this. :-)

  2. Excellent interview. Good choice of topics. Excellent choice of a person to interview. Mike Montemerlo is not only very smart, as was said above, he is also very personable. I wouldn’t doubt that he is the best young roboticist in the world. He got his intelligence from my wife (his mother). I am completely unbiased about all of this. :-)

  3. Excellent interview. Good choice of topics. Excellent choice of a person to interview. Mike Montemerlo is not only very smart, as was said above, he is also very personable. I wouldn’t doubt that he is the best young roboticist in the world. He got his intelligence from my wife (his mother). I am completely unbiased about all of this. :-)

  4. hi
    robotic cars have a definite future
    i personally feel we would better develop more automobiles based on solar energy or electric power with batteries so that we could cut the costs of petroleum products also solar and electric cars dont pollute the environment
    one sad thing about the robotic cars is that some criminals also use this

  5. hi
    robotic cars have a definite future
    i personally feel we would better develop more automobiles based on solar energy or electric power with batteries so that we could cut the costs of petroleum products also solar and electric cars dont pollute the environment
    one sad thing about the robotic cars is that some criminals also use this

  6. hi
    robotic cars have a definite future
    i personally feel we would better develop more automobiles based on solar energy or electric power with batteries so that we could cut the costs of petroleum products also solar and electric cars dont pollute the environment
    one sad thing about the robotic cars is that some criminals also use this

  7. What would be an interesting question is how is this technology going to enable those with disabilities such as poor vision. Since America is so car-centric it is very difficult for those that can not drive to find work and keep a job. I see this as helping those in the economy that are generally neglected.

    However something else to consider is that since this could help those with disabilities then how do you design a car with no backup system. The backup system would be the human in this case as the person can take over from the car. However what happens when you have no backup.

    Just some things to consider.

  8. What would be an interesting question is how is this technology going to enable those with disabilities such as poor vision. Since America is so car-centric it is very difficult for those that can not drive to find work and keep a job. I see this as helping those in the economy that are generally neglected.

    However something else to consider is that since this could help those with disabilities then how do you design a car with no backup system. The backup system would be the human in this case as the person can take over from the car. However what happens when you have no backup.

    Just some things to consider.

  9. What would be an interesting question is how is this technology going to enable those with disabilities such as poor vision. Since America is so car-centric it is very difficult for those that can not drive to find work and keep a job. I see this as helping those in the economy that are generally neglected.

    However something else to consider is that since this could help those with disabilities then how do you design a car with no backup system. The backup system would be the human in this case as the person can take over from the car. However what happens when you have no backup.

    Just some things to consider.

  10. No, you’re right, that was uncalled for. Obviously this is a very diverse audience at your blog and just because the questions weren’t the kind *I’d* like doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be asked. All the best!

  11. No, you’re right, that was uncalled for. Obviously this is a very diverse audience at your blog and just because the questions weren’t the kind *I’d* like doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be asked. All the best!

  12. No, you’re right, that was uncalled for. Obviously this is a very diverse audience at your blog and just because the questions weren’t the kind *I’d* like doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be asked. All the best!

  13. Robert, the questions were fine. I can imagine sitting down with Mike over lunch and asking him many of the same questions.

    Here’s a twist on your question about which autonomous vehicle should go first if several reach an intersection at the same time–what if you were driving a car and came up to an intersection just slightly before an autonomously driven vehicle to your right? Would you yield? I think I would or at least I’d be very cautious. I often check to see if a driver is looking at me before proceeding into an intersection where I might cross their path. I don’t just look at the car’s position and go. In this case it might help if the autonomous vehicle were to signal in some way that it’s about to proceed.

    There’s also a variation on the “intersection” problem that can happen at this year’s event: This time around vehicles are required to pull into a specific parking spot and then back out. If the parking lot becomes congested in any way, this could get pretty interesting. My guess is that the race will be designed to keep the traffic contention at a minimum, but wouldn’t that be something if more than one vehicle wanted to park in the same spot at the same time :-)?

  14. Robert, the questions were fine. I can imagine sitting down with Mike over lunch and asking him many of the same questions.

    Here’s a twist on your question about which autonomous vehicle should go first if several reach an intersection at the same time–what if you were driving a car and came up to an intersection just slightly before an autonomously driven vehicle to your right? Would you yield? I think I would or at least I’d be very cautious. I often check to see if a driver is looking at me before proceeding into an intersection where I might cross their path. I don’t just look at the car’s position and go. In this case it might help if the autonomous vehicle were to signal in some way that it’s about to proceed.

    There’s also a variation on the “intersection” problem that can happen at this year’s event: This time around vehicles are required to pull into a specific parking spot and then back out. If the parking lot becomes congested in any way, this could get pretty interesting. My guess is that the race will be designed to keep the traffic contention at a minimum, but wouldn’t that be something if more than one vehicle wanted to park in the same spot at the same time :-)?

  15. Robert, the questions were fine. I can imagine sitting down with Mike over lunch and asking him many of the same questions.

    Here’s a twist on your question about which autonomous vehicle should go first if several reach an intersection at the same time–what if you were driving a car and came up to an intersection just slightly before an autonomously driven vehicle to your right? Would you yield? I think I would or at least I’d be very cautious. I often check to see if a driver is looking at me before proceeding into an intersection where I might cross their path. I don’t just look at the car’s position and go. In this case it might help if the autonomous vehicle were to signal in some way that it’s about to proceed.

    There’s also a variation on the “intersection” problem that can happen at this year’s event: This time around vehicles are required to pull into a specific parking spot and then back out. If the parking lot becomes congested in any way, this could get pretty interesting. My guess is that the race will be designed to keep the traffic contention at a minimum, but wouldn’t that be something if more than one vehicle wanted to park in the same spot at the same time :-)?

  16. Robotic cars is a difficult subject since there are so many factors, keeping interview questions simple is probably a good idea for people like me. Thanks Robert.

  17. Robotic cars is a difficult subject since there are so many factors, keeping interview questions simple is probably a good idea for people like me. Thanks Robert.

  18. Robotic cars is a difficult subject since there are so many factors, keeping interview questions simple is probably a good idea for people like me. Thanks Robert.

  19. Honestly, these questions you’re asking are so damn inane. They really betray your lack of any understanding software engineers face. I can just see the pain in Mike’s face.

  20. Honestly, these questions you’re asking are so damn inane. They really betray your lack of any understanding software engineers face. I can just see the pain in Mike’s face.

  21. Honestly, these questions you’re asking are so damn inane. They really betray your lack of any understanding software engineers face. I can just see the pain in Mike’s face.

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