If you want to experience the benefits of autonomous driving technology, you need to shell out for a late model car, right? Not so, if Toronto-based start-up X-Matik, which recently unveiled its LaneCruise system, has its way. Coming as an aftermarket add-on kit, the system is designed to give any old car self-driving capabilities.
The hardware in the kit consists of five main parts: the Brainbox central processing unit, the front-facing camera and touchscreen user interface module, and actuators for the steering wheel, brake pedal and gas pedal.
So how capable is LaneCruise compared to existing systems like Tesla's Autopilot? Whereas Autopilot uses radar to detect objects around the vehicle, the LaneCruise system uses forward-facing cameras that are mounted under the rear-view mirror. The cameras can be integrated with the touch-screen to display what they're seeing, while the Brainbox installed under the driver's seat processes the information and sends control inputs to the steering wheel and pedals.
These control inputs are calculated by two software systems simultaneously: the first system is purely learning-based and makes control inputs to the vehicle based on human driving behaviors, while the second system uses a traditional segmentation method similar to what Tesla and many others use to differentiate between the various objects that are detected by LaneCruise. The system reads lane markings or tire tracks in snow, other vehicles or pedestrians, or other features that indicate the road's path, to help make these inputs.
X-Matik says that LaneCruise can also be used for hands-free highway driving and in stop/start bumper-to-bumper traffic and it will maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front to ensure that it can stop in time in the event of an emergency.
LaneCruise does have some limitations: it will not work at empty intersections, nor can it be used for navigational purposes or on completely unmarked roads. It will have a lane-changing capability, but only in the mass-market version. In these situations, the driver is ultimately liable for anything that happens while LaneCruise is in control because, like Tesla's Autopilot, the system is intended to be a Level 2-3 autonomous system and doesn't provide fully-autonomous driving capabilities.
X-Matik claims that LaneCruise is truly universal and can be fitted to just about any car, with adjustable mounting options for the cameras and touchscreen interface as well as adjustable clamps for the various actuators. The company says the system has been successfully fitted to a Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Subaru Forester and Subaru Impreza, with verification of compatibility with up to 20 different vehicles through space fits and simulations.
The company will also provide in-person support for the one-hour fitment process for Southern Ontario customers during beta testing. To ensure customers receive ongoing support for LaneCruise after its market launch, X-Matik says it will be using an online course to train local mechanics around North America on how to fit and maintain the LaneCruise system.
X-Matik plans to release LaneCruise in stages, with a beta program to be conducted in Ontario in early 2018 that will be followed by a limited public release for early adopters later that year. Availability for the general public is slated for the (Northern Hemisphere) spring of 2019. Pricing details for the final system are yet to be decided, but the Beta version will retail for around US$1,500-2,000, and there are also plans for an option to lease LaneCruise for a US$150 monthly fee until the system is paid off after its full launch.
In the meantime, check out LaneCruise being put to the test in the video below.
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