Autonomous Vehicles

Linux drives the experimental vehicle of the University of Parma.
Statistical Analysis of the Tour

Table 1. System Performance Statistics

The analysis of the data collected during the tour allowed the computation of a number of statistics regarding system performance (see Table 1). In particular, for each stage of the tour, the average and maximum speeds of the vehicle during automatic driving were computed. Average speed was strongly influenced by the heavy traffic conditions (especially on Torino, Milano and Roma's bypasses) and by the presence of toll stations, junctions and road works.

The automatic driving percentage and maximum distance show high values, despite the presence of many tunnels (particularly during the Appennines routes Ancona to Roma and Firenze to Bologna) and of several stretches of road with absent or worn lane markings (Ferrara to Ancona and Ancona to Roma) or even no lane markings at all (Firenze to Bologna). It is fundamentally important to note that some stages included passing through toll stations and transiting bypasses with heavy traffic and frequent queues, during which the system had to be switched off.

Closing Remarks

Throughout the entire project, the choice of an Intel-based platform, coupled with the Linux operating system, was shown to be extremely reliable; the number of faults due to these system components was zero over the last two years.

Originally, the main reason behind the choice of the Linux operating system (instead of real-time OS or operating systems for industrial PCs) was the availability of up-to-date developing and debugging tools, drivers and FAQs about specific hardware devices, and the possibility of interacting with a large number of researchers worldwide on the Internet in order to solve problems.

The main topics for future research (ARGO Project, phase II) are related to the development of a new vehicle integrating both road following and platooning (the automatic following of a manually driven vehicle) functionalities. In this next phase, the processing engine will be a higher performance Intel-based architecture, again driven by the Linux operating system.


Comments From Others about ARGO

Massimo Bertozzi holds a Ph.D. in Information Technology and a Master's degree in Electronic Engineering. He has been a Linux enthusiast since kernel 1.0.9. Since 1994, he has been working at the Università di Parma on research topics regarding machine vision and clusters of Linux boxes. When not recompiling strange programs, reading news, surfing the net, playing Quake or some other adventure game, he can be reached via e-mail at

Alberto Broggi is married to Simona, who gently allows him to work at home and even during the night on topics related to automatic vehicle guidance using artificial vision. In his spare time, he teaches a number of courses at both Università di Pavia and Università di Parma and has still not learned to turn when someone calls him Professor. He is involved in the organization of many international scientific events, but had a bad time when looking for a photo with a tie to include in this biography. Alberto will certainly answer if you contact him at

Alessandra Fascioli received the Dr.Eng. (Master) degree in Electronic Engineering from the Università di Parma, Italy. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate in Information Technology at the Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell'Informazione of the Università di Parma. Her research activities on real-time computer vision for automatic vehicle guidance and on image processing techniques based on the Mathematical Morphology computational model generally produce better results after a good swim or sunbath at the university campus swimming pool. You can contact her at



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Although at first sight an

DanielS's picture

Although at first sight an autonomous car seems to be a good way to make roads safer (i am sure it will prevent many accidents), i don't know if these days drivers would be willing to give up on driving. I am afraid most of them enjoy driving their cars too much to do so, but i think they might prefer adding some autonomous features to their automobiles instead, which can also help increase road safety.
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