We have heard a lot lately about the technology which could allow self driving cars on the road and the latest news from Oxford University certainly seems to make it seem like something which could happen soon.
The car in question uses a mixture of small cameras and lasers to let it work out when it is following a familiar route. It then memorises the trip. This means that it could potentially be let loose on its own for your commute to work or the daily trip to school.
The idea has been designed to cost little money and to take some of the “strain” off drivers. Of course, researchers at Google have been looking at producing something similar and have even pushed for a change to the law in California so that they can try out their car in the real world.
The Oxford version is the result of the Oxford RobotCar UK project and one of the key players is called Professor Paul Newman, who works in the university’s department of engineering science.
Testing Being Done
Prof Newman said that they are “working with” the Department of Transport in order to try and get some testing done on the UK roads. At the moment they are giving it a try in a specially built testing centre at the Begbroke Science Park in Oxfordshire which the professor described as being a “light industrial site with road markings” where the car’s navigation and control can be tested.
The key is that the vehicle simply recognises its surroundings and can take over when it is on a route it is already familiar with. A touch on the brake pedal will give full control back to the human driver.
Driverless cars will come in 4 steps:
* step 0: today’s self parking feature and Google cars
* step 1: partially autonomous driverless cars
* step 2: everyone can operate a driverless car
* step 3: shared driverless cars
“How long end drivers are allowed (technically and legally) not to pay attention to road” will be the most interesting thing to watch for the next 5 to 10 years and especially:
* environmental conditions allowing it.
* the price of the technical features needed.