A 19-year-old teenager from Romania just invented a new technology that would make self-driving car technology a lot less expensive and easier to implement.   From his research, Ionut Budisteanu won first place for using artificial intelligence to create a low-cost, self-driving car at the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Google along with other research groups have been working on a driver-less car for the past few years but still have not found a way to make it inexpensive.  One major hurdle in particular is the high-resolution radar that Google needs for their cars to operate.  It was this radar system that 19-year-old Ionut Budisteanu decided to tackle and he successfully developed a technology to eliminate it.

Ionut Budisteanu (source: Intel)

In a recent television interview Budisteanu said he looked at the highest cost of Google’s system, which was the high-resolution 3D radar and decided to tackle how it could be eliminated.  

Budisteanu’s ingenious idea uses inexpensive webcam imagery along with an artificial-intelligence computer program that sees curbs, obstacles, lane markers or anything that a driver would take notice of on the road.  He then added a less expensive, low- resolution 3D radar system that could recognize objects with a larger mass such as other cars or trees.  All of the data is then interpreted by the AI, which then tells the car which way it should travel and how to do so safely.

In comparison, Google’s driverless-car system currently cost over $70,000 (U.S.), while Budisteanu's new technology is said to cost only around $4,000.  With this kind of inexpensive price it could easily make the idea of seeing driver-less cars a part of everyday life.

Because of his research and development, Budisteanu won first prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Ariz., which was a $75,000 (U.S.) scholarship.  The fair had around 1,600 young people from around the world all selected from 433 affiliated fairs from over 70 countries or territories.