back to article Robot cars can now do a Rockford into a parking space

At last robot-car boffins have achieved something useful: they have developed a vehicle which is capable of carrying out a J-turn of the sort favoured by stunt drivers, criminals and undercover operatives - precisely into a parking space. Here's a vid* uploaded by J Zico Kolter, PhD student at Stanford university's Computer …

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Happy

Dukes

Now we just have to wait for the robot version of Dukes of Hazzard ...

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FAIL

They're obviously not very confident it will work...

...otherwise they'd be parking it between their own cars, which can be seen briefly in the corner of the shot.

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Terminator

...and so it begins...

Also, is there an app for that?

You could have a hot-key on the dash - "Extreme Parking!"

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Paris Hilton

"Bad luck fanbois"

Not sure where the dig is aimed at, but my iPhone can view YouToob vids just fine...

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Lewis Page probably has a bet on...

The Fanbois comment seems to be a trademark troll on LP's articles, I assume he has a wager along the lines of 'I bet I can upset an Apple commentard at least once every article for a year'. So far, it's been slightly amusing, but really, getting a rise out of an Apple evangelist is really too easy to be that much fun.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Lewis Page probably has a bet on...

Maybe next year his target next year will be Wintards?

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It's a conspiracy!

Maybe one of you should drive to el reg and ask for Lewis Page. Then show him that your phone can in fact play the clip... That'll show him.

Don't forget to bring the printouts of his articles, where you have highlighted all of the slights he has tossed at you and your phone.

F'ing iDiots

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Bronze badge

Cool

Actually very usefull

A step closer to true autaunomous vehicles.

If the computer can control the car whilst it is "out of control" and get it back on track they should be able to do better than humans in a short peoriod of time !!

although a computer shouldnt even get in the situation on needing to do a J turn !!!

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Thumb Down

A J-turn?

I'd call the parking maneuver a drift.

A J-turn, as I know it, is just for reversing direction and leaving the way you came.

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Silver badge
Pint

J-turn?

Here in the Colonies, we learned to call that manuver a "U-Turn".

You're right about that "Rockford" manuver being more of a "drift" than a "turn" -- not unlike what I see a lot of Grand Prix or F1 drivers often doing on tight corners/curves and hairpins, where they aren't so much "turning" in a normal fashion as they are using acceleration and steering to throw the car into a controlled slide through the curve.

A cold one for the Stanford guys.

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Paris Hilton

Why park there?

In the second vid 'more detailed explanation of the science', if the computer model is so smart why does it perform a crazy handbrake-turn-slide into a narrow space between two parked cars instead of just parking in one of those easy to drive into free spaces in the rank?

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Silver badge

@ "Bad luck fanbois"

not if Google decide to do a Job's and ban it.

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Anonymous Coward

So?

When it can do this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REpXf0cmJ64 on dry tarmac without all that equipment bolted all over the car then I'll start to be impressed.

In all seriousness how can we tell from that video that they haven't just got a driver to make the maneuvre once and recorded his control movements? I'd like to see it tested where they park a couple of cars and simply point to the space on the device's screen and click the "park it there" button.

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Flame

Not so sure..

If you look real close you can see his hands on the steering wheel just after the car spins! I think the robots are tricking us into thinking they're still dumb when in fact they've plotting against us as I type....arrggggg a drone has just appeared outside my window with a red blinking light!

010001000110111101101110001001110111010000100000

011100110110100001101111011011110111010000100000

010010010010000001100001011011010010000001100001

001000000111001001101111011000100110111101110100

00100001

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Emo
Boffin

Re: Not so sure.

The guy is clearly sat in the right hand seat, while the steering wheel can be clearly seen on the wrong side (left hand side).

What you see on the steering wheel is more likely the mechanical control to turn the steering wheel.

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Silver badge
Grenade

Waddya mean, "wrong side"?

Hey, them's fightin' words, Limey. (;^>

But, seriously... I've always wondered about standard (stick) shifts in British cars... what do all those right-handed shifters (like me) do? And, are the gas/brake/clutch positions the same, or "mirror-imaged"?

I often wonder how many accidents on British roads are caused by Americans still learning to drive on the other side of the road from the other side of the car...

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Silver badge

@Mike Flugennock

"what do all those right-handed shifters (like me) do?"

My dad once put it "I got back from England, went to shift & rolled down the window!" ... Me, I solved the problem by getting right hand drive '65 Sunbeam Tiger and '48 MG-TC and '54 Morgan +4 to go along with my more "normal" left-hand drive fleet ... Now the only problem is remembering which side of the road to get into when turning. Generally, I look for roadsigns ... if I'm looking at the back, I'm on the wrong side :-)

"And, are the gas/brake/clutch positions the same, or "mirror-imaged"?"

Right foot is the loud pedal, regardless of culture. Brake in the middle, clutch on the left.

Now, Melbourne turns and always get me all screwed up ...

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Er...

That's a pretty lame effort. Really all it did was to reverse around a 180 degree corner then stop, giving it a bit of unnecessary opposite lock. Lets see it do it (a) at twice the speed and (b) finishing off the stunt by immediately pulling away fast (with the tyres smoking of course) so the car never is actually stopped. Oh, and where was Daisy Duke?

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Silver badge

Bah!

It is an outrage that in all the years Hollywood has been assaulting us with Telly-to-Big-Screen revivals, we have yet to see The Rockford Files ruined forever by a cheesy script and "awesome" CGI.

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WTF?

*These are Flash vids from YouTube. Bad luck, fanbois

mmmmmmmf

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Not a J Turn

The point of the J Turn is to maintain some momentum in the direction of travel despite rotating the orientation of travel. The manoeuvre performed here would be rubbish at getting away as you end up stationary in between two cars!

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Silver badge

Well, technically not...

...but it's really just a variation on the "Rockford Turn" applied to parking instead of escaping from bad guys.

Of course, once four-wheel steering becomes more practical and widespread, the whole Rockford Manuver issue will be pretty much academic. (Damn, I wish to hell they'd taught me that in Driver's Ed instead of that regular old lame-assed parallel parking technique)

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that's what i call

applied physics !

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Gold badge

Control

So can the "robot driver" claim that it was always in control of the vehicle (showing the equations and numbers to prove it), and so get away with doing this type of thing without the police complaining?

Oh and I didn't know that I was a "fanboi", but I guess I must be, because IE said "An error occureed, please try again later".

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Thumb Up

And in a Passat too!

Can't really imagine all the other VW Passat owners in Sainsbury's car park ticking the option list for this.

Do they call it Park Assist 2.0? *

But I'd like to see Stanford and VW do that with a Bentley on full candle. That would be quite visual.

Anyway, good luck to all of them. I like this. It looks like the perfect engineering research project, a lot of fun and then a serious control system underneath. Are they going to put this in as a final flourish when they cross the finishing line in the next DARPA Challenge Race?

Beats the hell out of all that dull but worthy R&D on squeezing another dozen yards out of a gallon of diesel.

(* for those who might not know, Park Assist is the VW name for the optional gizmo that senses and steers their cars into parallel parking spaces in the boring old left-right-right-left way).

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Silver badge

Re : And in a Passat too!

We've got Park Assist in our Touran although the model just came with it - we'd never have paid specifically for it.

Never used it or indeed plan to. The front and aft sensors can be useful for tight situations though.

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Silver badge

Lest we forget the most important question...

...when will this feature be perfected well enough to include on the next Mars Rover? Whee-hahh.

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Thumb Up

Mark my words

One of these names will be rolling across the screen after Mythbusters one day... The ultimate RC car. Even the Bearded One has to be impressed by this.

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Silver badge

@Kingprawn

And the drone replied:

01010111011001010010000001100001011100100110010100

10000001100001011011000110110000100000011100100110

11110110001001101111011101000111001100100000001011

01001000000110011001110101011011000110011001101001

01101100011011000110100101101110011001110010000001

11010001101000011001010010000001101001011011100110

01010111011001101001011101000110000101100010011011

00011001010010000001100110011101010111010001110101

01110010011001010010000001110011011001010111010000

10000001101111011101010111010000100000011010010110

11100010000001100101011101100110010101110010011110

01001000000111000101110101011000010110111001110100

01110101011011010010000001110011011101000110000101

11010001100101001000000110111101100110001000000110

01010111011001100101011100100111100100100000011000

01011101000110111101101101001000000110100101101110

00100000011101000110100001100101001000000101010101

10111001101001011101100110010101110010011100110110

010100101110

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Go

Could be handy

From what I've seen in parking lots, most people can't park between two lines when they aren't under any pressure to do so quickly.

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Alert

Sceptic

Until I see the car "parking" itself without the driver's hands on the steering wheel I will have to be marked a sceptic. Watch the clip and the drivers hands are clearly on the wheel during the slide up to the end of the "parking" demonstration.

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Silver badge

I may be alone ...

... but I, personally, have no interest in cars driving (or parking) themselves. The research is quite useful, but putting it into operation for the general public, not so much.

On the other hand ... maybe at some point in the future, anyone who has used the auto-park "feature" more than once will have their license yanked for being too stupid to be behind the wheel :-)

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Silver badge

Parking radar?

I don't know how widespread it is in the rest of the world, but in the US, the automakers are still sort of tentatively introducing parking radar-assist as a sort of exotic feature on your more high-end vehicles, along with rear-view cameras.

(Hell, I don't know if they even teach parallel parking in Driver's Ed anymore...)

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Doing a Rockford?

Ah, yes, but can it do a Russ Swift though?

Btw vids no prob on a Mac.

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Jobs Horns

Btw vids no prob on a Mac

but for how long? its nice to know that it could be gone at any minute isn't it.

*you never actually buy a Mac, you only agree to let steves box live with you.

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Alert

Awesome, but...

While this is an Awesome display of how well automated driving is getting, they really need to take some time and get rid of all the crap on the roof of the car and pack it into some nice neat package that fits into the lines of the vehicle... All the equipment reminds me of the roof of "Ecto-1" (The car in Ghostbusters)

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Silver badge

I'm sorry, but...

...as Someone Of A Certain Age, I've been reading in damn' near every other issue of Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Road&Track and other mags since at least the mid-'60s about how we're going to have cars that drive themselves Any Day Now. It's always scared the piss out of me... I mean, c'mon, who's programming the autonomous driving routines in those cars, anyway?

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