self-driv­ing cars are storm­ing the streets

Toronto Life - - This City -

When Uber hired U of T pro­fes­sor Raquel Ur­ta­sun, she didn’t move to their San Fran­cisco of­fices—the com­pany came to her. Ur­ta­sun, an AI ex­pert, is head of the Toronto branch of Uber’s Ad­vanced Tech­nolo­gies Group, a new lab ded­i­cated to re­search­ing self-driv­ing cars. Her goal is to mas­ter three es­sen­tial chal­lenges: ob­ject recog­ni­tion (the ve­hi­cle’s abil­ity to see other cars, pedes­tri­ans and so on), map­ping (cre­at­ing a hy­per-de­tailed street grid for the cars’ brains to nav­i­gate) and lo­cal­iza­tion (mak­ing sure the ve­hi­cle knows where it is). In Au­gust, the lab sent two of its high-tech whips—Volvo SUVs with 22 lenses and roof-mounted sen­sors—onto the streets to map the area around U of T. It’s a hum­ble start, but it’s the first step to­ward a world where a ma­chine, not a per­son, is driv­ing you home from the bar at 1 a.m.

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