Robotic Prius takes itself for a spin around SF
Smart cars - so people can eat, read or sleep on their way to work?!An unusual motorcade made its way across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge early one morning last week: a silver Toyota Prius, complete with police escort and camera crew, but with no driver at the wheel.
The robotic Prius was the invention of Anthony Levandowski, 28, a computer engineer who lives in San Francisco, works in Silicon Valley, and built the so-called "Pribot" in his spare time.
"Some people like to work on hot rods, boats, or airplanes," Levandowski said afterward. "I love robots."
Pribot's real-world test started on September 7 at Pier 7, a nondescript slice of San Francisco's often-foggy waterfront, around 7:30 a.m. The autonomous vehicle drove along the Embarcadero, took a right on Harrison Street, turned onto the bridge itself, and exited at Treasure Island.
The result? Years of hard work paid off. No little old ladies were run off the road. Pribot's trek, Levandowski said, took place without incident, save the car scraping its left side as it drove up the ramp exiting the Bay Bridge.
This was far from his first experiment with self-guided vehicles. As a student at the University of California at Berkeley in 2004, Levandowski was part of a graduate student team that created a robotic motorcycle called Ghostrider to enter DARPA's Grand Challenge.