[Reviews in this blog are meant to convey some of the issues our team has been facing when trying to implement a vision based system (as opposed to a range based system) to guide Pegasus Bridge 1, our entry in DARPA's Grand Challenge]
Anybody who has ever driven in the desert knows that one's reflexes gathered while driving on a highway do not work as well in this new environment. Point in case, the generic driving behavior one can observe in street car driving as shown in these two videos from gaze tracking vendors (1 and 2 or 3) and the roads being driven in the WRC (watch the free preview of the Cyprus Rally) which are likely to ressemble more the type of terrain one will observe in the Grand Challenge (ableit not at the same speed.)
We have been in talks with one of the vendors, but at 25-35 K$, there has not been a place where each of out interest and theirs have overlapped. Maybe some other time.
Why is gaze following important ? because this is the only way to reduce the field of vision to be decomposed for analysis. If one were to have a 640 by 480 camera, and tried to analyze the field of vision given by the camera, it is very likely that the analysis would take too much time for the vehicle to make a relevant decision (please note that I am not even talking about the way the computation is performed and the type of hardware used.) Not only that, but gaze following by a human is a filter for objects and scenes of relevance to the driving experience. If one were to have the same "reflexes" most of the driving experience would eventually be about choice and how one's speed is considered "safe" by the driver considering the terrain. I will talk about terrain some other time, in another review using the data we are making available.