Ahh, the dream of automated driving. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to tweet and check Facebook while driving without risking your life? Well, thanks to researchers at Oxford University and Apple’s iPad, steps towards this future are becoming reality. The Oxford project is aimed at finding a middle ground between full automation and human interaction while operating motor vehicles. The project is using a Nissan Leaf outfitted with navigation tech for its test runs.
The model that has been developed by Oxford University requires human operation in areas of high congestion or activity, while allowing the vehicle to take control in areas that are a little more calm. The car prompts the user when it feels comfortable with the route and activity, allowing the user to then put the car on auto-pilot.
“Our approach is made possible because of advances in 3D laser mapping that enable an affordable car-based robotic system to rapidly build up a detailed picture of its surroundings,” Professor Paul Newman of Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science said, “Because our cities don’t change very quickly, robotic vehicles will know and look out for familiar structures as they pass by so that they can ask a human driver ‘I know this route, do you want me to drive?”
The prompt is displayed via the iPad, which is positioned in the middle of the dashboard. Once auto-drive is activated , the car’s navigation abilities are switched over to an internal computer system that relies on lasers and cameras built into the car, as well as a computer in the trunk. The iPad remains the main conduit of communication with the auto-drive feature, but the feature can also be disabled by a tap on the brake pedal.
While the technology is still a long way from commercial production, the team will continue testing its iPad-driven system at its base in Begbroke Science Park, near Oxford. Professor Newman would like to develop a system that costs around £100, with the current prototype costing around £5000.
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[Via: Clean Tecnica]