I always wondered why there were traffic jams, growing up. After doing boatloads of research, I found that they were caused by one person stopping, miles away causing a chain of sporadic braking and thus, a traffic jam.
What it does
Car buddy is a module that you can plug in to your car's computer in order to turn it into an autonomous vehicle when in a traffic jam. Because it is normally off and you have to physically press a button in order to turn on the autonomy, Car buddy avoids the problems that companies like Google and Tesla, are facing because of the public's fear of crashing. After many interviews, I found that most people would never buy an autonomous vehicle because of a misguided fear. It is much more likely that someone would crash driving themselves than a computer driving for them. People are afraid of traveling 60 miles per hour in an autonomous car but I have yet to meet anyone that has said that they are afraid of using an autonomous car in a heavy traffic situation. The best thing about Car buddy is that, if enough people start buying this product. it will get rid of the traffic jams themselves.
How I built it
I built a model car using spare parts I had and an Arduino (for the brain of the car). I used Ultrasonic Sensors for the environment mapping because it was the only type of distance sensor I had. I coded the Arduino in C++.
Challenges I ran into
I was working alone so I had to do all of the building and all of the business side at the same time. Because I was working with hardware, I ran into hundreds of problems building this car. I had to make many modifications because of a lack of the proper tools.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I am proud that I built an autonomous car and made a really good presentation all in 19 hours. I am proud that I pushed through and built it out even though I constantly ran into deal-breaking problems that made me feel that it was all over until I would find a solution to it. Because I was building a hardware prototype, these deal-breaking problems happened at least once every hour.
What I learned
I have become a master at anything servo, dc motor, or ultrasonic sensor related because I spent 19 hours in a row with them in my hands at all times.
What's next for Car Buddy
I plan on starting a company out of this. This company would work with auto shops and hardware stores so that they enthusiasts and early adopter can get a hold of one and help speed up the adoption process. Because of the nature of this field, government regulations is going to be the biggest hurdle for me to deal with but I am definitely willing to do what it takes to make this idea a reality.