Self-Driving Car To Be Tested On UK Roads
How RobotCar Works
Watch out - self-driving cars could be tested on UK roads by the end of 2013. This is the next step on from testing such wizardry on private land. Initially, cars will be assessed in rural and suburban areas via “semi-autonomous” mode that allows a person to take control should a vehicle not perform correctly. However, they should be able to follow routes, maintain safe distances from hazards and keep to the correct lanes. The cars will be tested by scientists from Oxford University that have already showcased their self-driving car. But this RobotCar - which is based on a Nissan LEAF - cannot travel everywhere automatically. It must first be driven by a human so it can learn its route and the landmarks. It then recognises these on later trips and asks permission to drive itself to what it suggests is the correct destination. The motorist presses a button to confirm yes/no. This capability comes via three computers. The Main Vehicle Computer is an off-the-shelf unit in the boot. There is also a Low Level Controller and an iPad that runs the user interface on the dashboard. Computers therefore operate the vehicle's motor, steering, brakes, throttle, indicators, etc. They also work alongside cameras/lasers that help interpret the surroundings and navigate. And yes, if someone steps into the vehicle's path it knows to slam on the brakes.