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Computer Scientists at Freie Universität Develop Remote Control for Robotic Car

№ 282/2009 from Oct 16, 2009

Computer scientists of the Artificial Intelligence Group at Freie Universität Berlin have developed a remote control for their self-contructed autonomous vehicle "Spirit of Berlin." The iPhone-based software can operate the steering, brakes, and accelerator pedal of the car. The commands are transmitted from the iPhone via radio to the power transmission in the car.
The driver can get out and continue to steer the car. The car can thus be parked from the fourth floor of a building. Objects in front of the car are recognized with a video camera. The video signal is also transmitted to the iPhone. The "remote driver" can not only steer, but also see everything in front of the car.

The remote control was developed for the "Spirit of Berlin" autonomous vehicle previously built by the group of computer scientists directed by Professor Raúl Rojas. The vehicle is a converted car with complex electronics that in 2007 took part in a race of autonomous vehicles in California, U.S.A. Under the framework of the ForMaT program of the German Federal Ministry of Research, the group at Freie Universität Berlin is investigating how autonomous vehicles could change our lives in the future. According to Rojas, "It is much easier to call the driverless taxi by cell phone. The car then picks me and other people up." If this type of autonomous vehicles became a reality, there would no longer be a need for individuals to keep their own car. That would help to effectively reduce energy consumption. Rojas continues, "Traffic on the roads would probably be greatly reduced."

A video shown on the Internet about this state-of-the-art technology was viewed 130,000 times in seven days and is currently the most popular video in the field of science and technology in Germany (

A presentation for representatives of the media is in preparation. The date has not yet been set. If you are interested, please send an email to:

Further Information

Professor Dr. Raúl Rojas
Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence Group
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 838-75102 and 838-75100, Email: