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University of Washington Bothell Students Developing Self-Driving Tricycle

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BOTHEL, Washington  --  While self-driving cars may not be in everyone's garage quite yet, self-driving bikes may be around sooner than people might expect.

Students at the University of Washington Bothell have worked for several years to develop a self-driving tricycle, as Elisa Hahn reports.

"We've accomplished a lot and we're not planning on stopping now," says one student working on the project.

Stopping and going may seem like simple functions, but programming autonomous trike to do them is anything but simple. Troubleshooting gives these engineering students "real world" experience, unlike what they may get in the classroom.

"You're working in lab,you have experiments that are carefully set up for you to get the right answer," says Tyler Folsom, a computer and software systems professor at UW Bothell. "You don't have to come into conflict with how the world really works. And Mother Nature is not always very cooperative."

The project began with a $75,000 grant from Amazon, which attracted a group of talented students with the motivation to see the project through.

While they have been successful in getting the trike to drive with a remote, they say the true test is programming it to take a specific route on its own.

Students named the trike Elcano, after the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe.

The trike gives riders a stable platform and the lighter weight allows a fuel-efficient system to use far less energy than a car. The end product will be open-sourced for anyone to use.

"We've been working on this for years and it's going, and it feels really good," says Folsom.

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