In case you ever wondered what practical purpose robotics as a field of science has, RoboCar [JP] might be one answer. That’s the name of a car robotics platform (and robot) currently in development at Tokyo-based robotics venture ZMP.
The goal is to anticipate functions of next-generation, “intelligent” vehicles – based on the interesting idea that those vehicles will have a lot in common with robots that can move and interact with each other autonomously.
ZMP says their mini cars (3kg, 429×195×212mm) are helpful when it comes to testing features such as automatic parking or hazard avoidance. The cars can also communicate with each other, enabling researchers to study how traffic jams can be avoided in the future, for example.
Equipped with a CCD stereo camera (30fps), a range of sensors, and an infrared laser system, the battery-powered RoboCar can drive up to one hour on a single charge.
This video DigInfoNews in Tokyo shot shows the most recent version (available for $11,300):