UK self-driving car gets first test run

Oxford University project hits the test track

Engineers at Oxford University have shown off the UK's first autonomous car on a tightly controlled test track at a science park in Oxford

The UK's first autonomous car has been shown off at a test event in Oxford - using lasers, cameras and an iPad to guide it around a test track without any input from the driver.

The car has been developed by the Oxford University RobotCar UK project and is made up of researchers and engineers from the university whose aim is to develop a car that can use technology to recognise and repeat familiar routes.

According to developers, the car will be able to take over control when driving on routes it has already taken - like a particularly advanced form of cruise control. Collision detection stops the car from hitting people or obstacles in the road.

When the car recognises it can drive itself along a route, a prompt appears on the iPad built into the dashboard offering to let the car take control.

"Crucial for us, it can show our navigation and control system working. It's not depending on GPS, digging up the roads or anything like that - it's just the vehicles knowing where they are because they recognise their surroundings," Professor Paul Newman from Oxford University's engineering science department told the BBC.

"The key word for us is that the car gains 'experiences'," he said.

Autonomous technology is nothing new and over in the States Google claims its own driverless vehicles have travelled 300,000 miles without an accident. Google is currently trying to get California law changed to permit its vehicles on the road, and the RobotCar UK project is also discussing with the Department of Transport to take its own car out on the road.

At present, the research team put the price of the tech at £5,000 - but hope this will drop significantly in the future and allow the self-driving technology to be included in new production models.

Via: BBC