My journey to learning how to turn my car into a self-driving automobile — Day 1

Day 1–29th Nov 2020 — The thoughts

Today 29th November 2020 I plan to embark on a journey with the bold goal of turning my car into self-driving automobile.
I have a Ford Fiesta 2013 model and I’ve been driving it for about 2.5 years. Today I decided I want to make it autonomous. Yes I know, it sounds bold, but I’ll be making sure that one way or another, that car will drive itself in 30/60/90 days.

Why though?

Mainly for two reasons:

1.Firstly this is not about wanting to not drive my car, or save time, or sleep while I commute, not at all. To understand why, let me provide you with a bit about myself: At the time of writing, I just graduated Computing at University of Worcester, UK. My dissertation analysed the concept of a mobile app that was connecting service providers (cleaners, sitters, cooks) with clients (prototype). If you’re thinking it sounds dull, you are right, it actually is, especially the writing part. During the presentation days, I’ve seen quite a few of my fellows taking on something AI related. However I was always a little sceptical about wanting to study such subject as I always thought it was too complex for me to like it (in other words, I was afraid it was going to be too hard for me to understand). Therefore, coming back to the first reason for starting on this journey is to stretch beyond my current knowledge base, and fight my current biggest fear, AI. Over the years I’ve been fascinated by the cutting edge technology continuously emerging. The more I witnessed it, the further away it appeared to be (the reason above). One of the technologies that struck my interest lately is self-driven cars. And so, reading it uses deep learning, which is a subset of machine learning, which is a subset of Artificial Intelligence, I thought to my self what a great coincidence. I could hit two birds with one stone.

2. Secondly, I would like to inspire other people taking on projects that stretch their limits. This way, we can all push ourselves towards constant evolution. We can all build on top of each other’s work. I’m hoping what I will be documenting here for the next however many days will inspire someone to start on their own very exciting journey. The inspiration for this entire this is Max Deutsch — How to build a self-driving car in one month. I knew nothing about this whole industry, and half-way through his post, I realised this thing is not as impossible as it might look. In the last part of his post, Max talks about whether this is a challenge after all, due to the amount of code already packaged up by other people. He also talks about how relevant/helpful his post could still be in 2–3 years time. My opinion is that although we’re getting technical, we’re not re-inventing the wheel or showing how it’s done, we’re just raising a bit more awareness (if you may) to yet another area of todays technology. In my opinion this is as important as a tutorial, course, instruction manual or cook book. The more people find out about this, the more better the evolution curve becomes. As I said previously, I’ve never done this. I’m 24, and work as a software (~3 years commercial coding experience, none of which regarding AI). Therefore, If I can do it, I’m quite safe to say that if you’re curious and patient enough, you can do it. And not only this, but anything.

Goal

The goal of this entire project/journey is, as the title states, turn my car autonomous. This doesn’t mean it will be fully self-driven. Nor it will be self-driven start-to-finish. For this project to satisfy my goal, my car must drive itself for a few seconds, turning at small angles, accelerate and break when needed.

To achieve this I’ll have to:

  1. Teach myself about self-driving (to allow me to program the hardware)

2. Train the model/program for steering, acceleration, break and throttle (basic car actions required for self-driving)

3. Build/purchase the necessary hardware (sensors, device with a camera, maybe step/servo motors)

That’s pretty much it for Day 1. I’ll give updates on the first step tomorrow.

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Programmer as a job, curious as a passion

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Iulian Oana

Iulian Oana

Programmer as a job, curious as a passion

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