We’ve already got cars that park themselves… but this is something different. At the touch of a button this Nissan LEAF can do the school run or even take you to work. By itself…
But although it sounds like something from a science fiction movie, the aptly named RobotCar is a deadly serious research project being undertaken by the University of Oxford in the UK.
The Mobile Robotics Group (MRG) from the University’s Department of Engineering Science is developing a low-cost driverless car so that “… we are not condemned to a future of congestion, accidents and time wasting.” The system is designed to take over from humans in slow moving heavy traffic or on familiar local routes.
The RobotCar LEAF uses a bank of lasers, cameras and sensors linked to on-board computers to read the road and the car’s surroundings, rather than rely on global positioning satellites (GPS). According to the team: “GPS does not offer the accuracy required for robots to make decisions about how and when to move safely.”
Instead, the lasers and cameras act as ‘eyes’ and map a 3D route, which is then stored on its computer. And once the car is on a route it ‘remembers’ it offers to take over the driving, via the dash-mounted iPad control panel. Although the RobotCar will stop the moment it detects an obstacle in its path, the driver can take back control at any time simply by pressing the brake.
The prototype RobotCar LEAF has been built for just £5,000 (around €5,800 - $7600) but the team says that in 15 years or so the system could be installed on the production line at a cost of just £100 (€115 - $150).
The team has two Nissan LEAF electric vehicles, chosen for their forward-thinking technology, high efficiency and, of course, the lack of carbon emissions. Already regarded as one of the most advanced cars on the road, the fully autonomous RobotCar LEAF truly is the Car of Tomorrow.
For more information see: http://www.robotcar.org.ukprint Tweet