Romanian Teen Slashes Price of Autonomous Cars

A blog about business and economics.
May 23 2013 8:40 AM

Meet The Romanian Teenager Who Just Slashed $70,000 Off The Price of Autonomous Cars

Every year the Intel Science and Engineering Awards features some extremely impressive young people, but this year's winner—Romanian 19 year-old Ionut Budisteanu—may make an unusually big difference.

His contribution was to take one of the most expensive elements of existing autonomous vehicle technology, the high-resolution 3D radar that Google uses to help cars see objects in the road, and use artificial intelligence to get by with a cheaper radar. Using about $4,000 worth of equipment he got results that are about as good as Google's $75,000 rigs. For his trouble he gets a $75,000 scholarship prize. Eesha Khare, an 18 year-old from California, also did something with some major potential commercial applications and "developed a tiny device that fits inside cell phone batteries, allowing them to fully charge within 20-30 seconds." We're told that "Eesha’s invention also has potential applications for car batteries."

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Needless to say, the dual technologies of car electrification and car automation are probably the leading candidates to transform everyday life in a really useful way so this is extremely encouraging news.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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