Anthony Levandowsi, a 28 year old computer engineer from San Francisco has created an autonomous vehicle based around the Toyota Prius. He calls his invention the "Pribot" and he has begun real world testing on the San Francisco waterfront.
As a student at the University of California at Berkeley in 2004, Levandowski participated as part of a graduate student team that developed a robotic motorcycle called Ghostrider to enter DARPA's Grand Challenge.
In the 25-minute test drive the Pribot relied on a combination of GPS, inertial guidance, and a pair of infrared lasers that scanned its surroundings and compared its location with the previously built 3D map.
Even with the 3-D map the project would not have been possible using traditional GPS sensors since their accuracy is to within about 30 feet. The only solution was to employ an RTK base station, which is used in farming to navigate harvesting vehicles to within inches of their course for more efficient use of fuel and fertilizer.
Levandowski has formed his own company called Anthony's Robots and hopes to use this technology to someday use in totally autonomous vehicles to make driving much more efficient and less hazardous.