posted 6 years ago

Self Driving Car Tested In UK

RobotCar Makes Astonishing Debut

Scientists at Oxford University have showcased a self driving car. But 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 take over. Press a button to confirm. This capability comes courtesy of three computers. The Main Vehicle Computer is an off-the-shelf unit in the boot. There is also the Low Level Controller and an iPad that runs the touch-screen user interface. The latter is mounted to the dashboard. Computers therefore operate the motor, steering, brakes, throttle, indicators, etc. They also complement cameras and lasers that help interpret the car's surroundings and navigate. No GPS here. And yes - if someone steps into the vehicle's path it stops. The motorist can also take over at any point by pressing the brake. So far, scientists have only experimented with RobotCar on a specially-made facility at Begbroke Science Park in Oxfordshire. This, however, could change in the near future if the Department for Transport grants permission for it to be tested on real roads.

Google Self Driving Car Project

RobotCar is not the only self driving vehicle on the planet. The Google Self Driving Car Project has clocked-up 300,000 miles in the United States without crashing (excluding an incident involving human error). And that brings us to one of the project's objectives - saving lives. Google's Sebastian Thrun once wrote that "according to the World Health Organisation more than 1.2 million lives are lost every year in road traffic accidents.” Many of these were caused by human error. He added: “We believe our technology has the potential to cut that number, perhaps by as much as half." The Google Self Driving Car Project incorporates machines such as the Lexus RX450h and Toyota Prius. These, of course, are equipped with systems which enable them to self drive. Highlights include the Lidar which is a rotating roof mounted sensor that scans more than 200 feet in every direction. Its purpose is to create a three-dimensional map. Also, the Position Estimator in the left rear wheel plots the car's location on this map and measures movement. This complements a video camera that sits close to the rear-view mirror and detects traffic lights and hazards such as pedestrians. Finally, front/rear sensors determine the positions of distant objects such as lorries. These systems have been tested on hospitable roads but will now be enhanced to cope with conditions such as snow. Machines are taking over - run.