Southwest Research showcasing automated driving technology

San Antonio-based institute winning awards for design

SAN ANTONIO – Self-driving cars aren’t on the roadways yet. But when they take you home, you might have to thank a few people at Southwest Research Institute.

What started as a research project years ago has led to technology that could one day lead the way for the self-driving vehicle industry.

“As it's evolved and we've discovered how useful it is and how robust our technology is, we've been transitioning it to more of something like a product,” said Kris Kozak, principal engineer behind the Ranger system. “It's applicable to other, more challenging environments such as freight distribution areas, constrained sites with a lot of traffic that require precise positioning and navigation.”

The system uses a combination of cameras, sensors, radar and lidar to transform a regular vehicle into something much more.

“It is literally reading the fingerprint of the road to determine where the vehicle is,” he said. “We can get driving precision on the order of plus or minus an inch, which is considerably better than GPS which can be plus or minus a meter.”

Technical papers and the equipment have both won awards at various conventions. The team showed off the hardware at another technology convention this week.

“One day I would love to have it drive me home,” said Kozak. “That's long been a goal, but we'll see.”