Raspberry Pi is the latest and greatest. You can even get it as a gift for your engineering friend. It is the system that you can use to make your own mini Tesla self-driving car.
Raspberry Pi Helps you Create DIY projects
Raspberry Pi allows you to create a potentially unlimited number of DIY projects. These projects range from media server, to a Christmas Light symphony conductor, to the program for a self-driving car. There is even a cheap option for approximately $10.
Make Your Own Mini Tesla Self-Driving Car
As the Raspberry Pi blog shows, a student from Bridgewater State University was able to modify a remote-controlled car. And, he did this using Raspberry Pi and some other hardware. The mini car toy was able to follow a road, as well as track, understand, and respond to traffic signs and lights. It was also able to detect obstacles in front of it to avoid collisions.
If you can build the same thing at home, albeit on a more massive scale, you can potentially create your own Tesla self-driving car. You will need to engineer the car to respond to more than just stop signs and traffic lights, however. It will need to be able to recognize a large variety of signs. Plus, you would need to make sure that your DIY car can hold riders, do parallel parking, etc.
Not As Simple As It Looks
Of course, the Bridgewater State University student, Zheng Wang, had to do some things before just letting the car run. He hooked the Raspberry Pi up to a Raspberry Pi Camera Module, as well as an ultrasonic sensor. The Pi has two client programs that serve the information to another computer over Wi-fi, along with streaming video. And, the car has a remote controller. There was also a bunch of math work involved, with geometric models and whatnot.
So, yeah. You can create your own DIY driverless car project. But, you will have to be a math whiz to understand all of the verticals and angles for the camera. Either that or hire a math whiz. You will also need to be familiar with neural networks.