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AutoDrive is the self-driving car. It's not science fiction. It will happen.

Jam Session
There are many vocal and auditory recognition programs, but imaine one that differentiates voices. This program could analyze the vocals in Beatles songs to differentiate John from Paul as well as George and Ringo. Then the instruments are separated and matched to the vocals. Quad speakers could each represent a Beatle. The end effect is as if you are sitting in on a Beatles jam session... in the middle. And while that's complicated, it is simple compared to AutoDrive.

AutoDrive is a self-driving car (an autonomous car) being created by Flight Control in Minnesota. AutoDrive components are adapted to existing vehicles to enable them to operate without intervention over public streets and highways. AutoDrive is composed of an Engine Control Unit (ECU), internal sensors, external sensors, and output mechanisms.

AutoDrive Engine Control Unit (AECU)
The AutoDrive Engine Control Unit (AECU) is preprogrammed to recognize all U.S. Federal Highway Administration pavement markings, signs, and traffic control devices. Specialized genetic algorithms and inductive logic enable AutoDrive to apply traffic rules and traffic features to new situations.

Internal sensors
AutoDrive provides three methods of inputting a destination and route:
1. The destination can be selected from a list of previous destinations from a touch screen.
2. The route can be identified through the Global Positioning System (GPS) on the touch screen.
3. The route can be manually driven.

External sensors
AutoDrive's sensory input is derived from a patent-pending arrangement of CMOS and CCD optical chips, ultrasonic motion sensors, optical triangulation sensors, radar, lasers, microphones, a variation of electronic stability control (ESC), gyroscopes, GPS, operational sensors, and a traffic signal preemption chip. The combination of these sensors and the AECU provide AutoDrive with a superior understanding of its surroundings.

AutoDrive is tomorrow's car today. Read about it in Hopes and Dreams: Stuck on AutoDrive. It'll clear it right up.

Good Attitude  (one month ago)

Things have clicked over the past few days. The good attitude has paid off.

Sometimes you wonder. Sometimes you think nothing can go right, even in a one-way, right turn. Disaster has your number, and even if you don't answer, it'll leave a message.

We've become beleaguered and war-weary. After so many problems opportunities, we have recently come to expect everything to go wrong.

The miracle is that for days things have fallen into place.

The trick is to ride out the bad times like you are on a surfboard. Take the good waves and the bad, without letting the bad waves destroy you and your people and all that you've built up... all that you've done. Don't let the waves beat you down.

Driving into a Brick Wall  (two months ago)

I don't get it. Nothing worked today. Not only that, but things that worked last week stopped working. The process of invention doesn't have clear boundaries, but the expectation is forward progress, not backward progress. At about 3pm today I almost blew up. I almost told everyone in R&D to go home; I mean, why pay people to work in reverse?

I looked over everyone's work. No one did anything wrong. Only AutoDrive.

What's easy about inventing AutoDrive  (three months ago)

Inventing the self-driving car is like inventing anything else. There are no rule books, no instruction manuals, no Wikipedia entries to guide you along. You take the goal and break it down into parts, then you break those parts down into more parts, and break the parts into parts into parts into parts until you get to stuff that is easy enough to start on.

1. Clear Goal

The easiest aspect of inventing AutoDrive is that there is a clear goal -- self-driving car -- it's just that simple. Except that life is not a hockey game, there are almost never fixed goals. The original goal of AutoDrive was to provide independent mobility for mobility challenged people. And now the goal has become bombarded by options that have been tacked on by one interested party or another. Still, for now the goal is to invent the self-driving car.

2. Unique Expertise

Doing something original means that you are the expert, or you will be by the time this thing is over, but you are an expert at doing -- comparing this try to the last one and comparing the results to the plan and the goal. If teaching a car to drive itself means teaching it by example, then you are driving it; it is not driving you. The expertise is specialized. You can no longer drive your own car without seeing the road through the eyes of AutoDrive. You see things differently.

A person crosses the street. You see them through the eyes of AutoDrive. You look at them based on your expertise, just like a fashion designer might see them only as a mannequin for the clothes they are wearing or a cop might compare them to their mental database of known felons and mug shots.

3. Simple Marketing

All you have to do is invent the thing. The public will buy it. It is not only self-driving; it's self-marketing.

I'll let you know when it's done.

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Read the novel -- Hopes and Dreams: Stuck on AutoDrive