MIT creates autonomous auto tech that looks underneath snow and rain

Huge amounts of time and research are being poured into autonomous auto research all around the world. MIT has announced that it has been working on a system that could benefit autonomous autos driving in snow or rain. The new system the team developed uses an existing technology called ground-penetrating radar to send electromagnetic pulses underground.MIT's system is dubbed localized ground-penetrating radar, and it creates a map of sorts that the car can use when it returns later to the same plot of land. The system can shoot the waves into the ground and can quantify the specific elements in the ground to create a fingerprint. That data can then be used to identify where the car is in the future.

The purpose of the feature is to allow navigation on a road covered in snow or ice or when it's raining hard. With that information, the car wouldn't need cameras or lasers to be able to operate autonomously. In testing, the team found in snowy conditions the navigation system's average margin of error was about an inch compared to when used in clear weather.

The system was off more in rainy weather by an average of 5.5-inches. The autonomous car used in testing was able to operate over six months with the team never needing to step in and take the wheel. The team tested the vehicle at a low speed on a closed county road. Researchers do say that the system could easily be extended to highways and other high-speed areas.

MIT's system is the first time that developers of an autonomous system have deployed ground-penetrating radar. The tech is primarily used in construction planning, landmine detection, and lunar exploration. The system would be unable to function on its own since it can't see things above ground. It would need to be paired with lidar and vision systems.