A self-driving car, able to drive itself on familiar routes, has been revealed at an event at Oxford University. The car uses lasers and small cameras to memorize regular trips like the daily commute or the school run.
The engineers and researchers behind the project are planning to produce a low-cost technology that “takes the strain” off drivers. Other companies like Google have also been testing the self-driving vehicle technology. Google has pushed for law changes in California to allow its car to be tested in real-life situations. According to Prof. Paul Newman from Oxford University’s department of engineering science, Oxford’s RobotCar UK project is planning to do the same in the UK.
“We’re working with the Department of Transport to get some miles on the road in the UK,” said Prof Newman, who is working together with machine learning specialist Dr. Ingmar Posner.
Until the car can get on the streets, the team is testing it out in a specially made setting at Begbroke Science Park in Oxfordshire.
According to Prof Newman, it’s not like a racetrack. It’s a light industrial site with roads and road markings. The technology allows the car to take control when driving on places it has already traveled.
“The key word for us is that the car gains ‘experiences’,” Prof Newman explained. When it goes on the same place again, an iPad built into the dashboard gives a reminder to the driver, informing to let the system “take the wheel.” Prof. Newman explained that at any time, a tap on the brake pedal would return control to the human driver.