'Self-driving' robot car unveiled by Oxford engineers

15 February 2013
By Edward Gent
Mobile version
Share |
The adapted Nissan Leaf's navigation system can recognise its surroundings using small cameras and lasers built into the body

The adapted Nissan Leaf's navigation system can recognise its surroundings using small cameras and lasers built into the body

A self-driving car has been unveiled by a team of researchers at Oxford University.

The specially adapted Nissan Leaf has a low-cost navigation system that can recognise its surroundings using small cameras and lasers discreetly built into the body of the electric road car and linked to a computer in the boot.

The technology is controlled from an iPad on the dashboard that flashes up a prompt offering the driver the option of the car taking over for a portion of a familiar route and at any time a tap on the brake pedal will return control to the human driver.

The research is being led by Dr Ingmar Posner and Professor Paul Newman of Oxford University's engineering science department.

He said: "Instead of imagining some cars driving themselves all of the time we should imagine a time when all cars can drive themselves some of the time. The sort of very low-cost, low-footprint autonomy we are developing is what's needed for everyday use."

The work is a milestone on the way to creating everyday vehicles that can offer "auto drive" for some parts of a journey, taking the strain off drivers during a busy commute or school run.

At the moment it is estimated that the prototype navigation system costs around £5,000 and while there are many hurdles to overcome, the long-term goal is to take such a system on to public roads.

"Long-term, our goal is to produce a system costing around £100," said Prof Newman.

The next stage of the research, led by Dr Posner, will involve enabling the new robotic system to understand complex traffic flows and make decisions on its own about which routes to take.

Prof Newman said: "While our technology won't be in a car showroom near you any time soon, and there's lots more work to do, it shows the potential for this kind of affordable robotic system that could make our car journeys safer, more efficient and more pleasant for drivers."

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: "Robotics and autonomous systems has the potential to be one of the great technologies of the future, and have recently benefited from £35m of new government investment.

“This landmark project is an excellent example of how the UK research base is at the leading edge of this technology, driving growth and transforming our everyday lives."

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1604

"Should the UK's engineers be in or out of Europe? The IET sets out its official position on the EU referendum this week - will you agree?"

->

E&T jobs

  • SAP TEAM MANAGER GENERAL ENQUIRIES

    SSE
    • Melksham, Swindon or Oxford
    • £33,520 TO £44,269 + CAR (SSE7) DEPENDING ON SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

    An exciting opportunity has arisen for an Overhead Tower Line Manager within Power Distribution covering Southern England.

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Engineer - Submarine Operability

    BAE Systems
    • Cumbria, England, Barrow-In-Furness
    • Competitive package

    As a Principal Engineer - Operability, you will be using your knowledge of submarine systems operation to influence the way the systems are designed, ensuring the Royal Navy personnel will be able to operate the system effectively

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • OVERHEAD TOWER LINE MANAGER

    SSE
    • Southern England
    • SALARY £42,149 - £62,427 + CAR (SSE9/10) DEPENDANT ON SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

    An exciting opportunity has arisen for an Overhead Tower Line Manager within Power Distribution covering Southern England.

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Engineer - Water

    Premium job

    Mott MacDonald
    • Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

    Mott MacDonald's highly successful Water and Environment Unit is recruiting an electrical engineer....

    • Recruiter: Mott MacDonald

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Design Engineer

    Premium job

    Mott MacDonald
    • Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

    Mott MacDonald's highly successful water business continues to win and deliver a fantastic amount of work....

    • Recruiter: Mott MacDonald

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Programme Manager

    Network Rail
    • England, London
    • £76800 - £86400 per annum

    Do you possess a track record of taking the lead on large projects?

    • Recruiter: Network Rail

    Apply for this job

  • Professor and Head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering

    Monash University
    • Australia (AU)

    Shape the future direction of a Department which is currently involved in ground breaking innovative research

    • Recruiter: Monash University

    Apply for this job

  • Rail Engineer

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Burton, Dorking, Glasgow
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    Some of the most exciting infrastructure projects in the UK over the coming years are in rail.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Power & HV Engineers

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Bristol, Burton, Glasgow, Gloucester, Plymouth, Warrington
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    Frazer-Nash is currently embarking on a period of significant growth of our electrical, electronics, control and instrumentation capability.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Control and Instrumentation Engineers

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Bristol, Burton, Dorchester, Glasgow, Gloucester, Plymouth, Warrington
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    Frazer-Nash is currently embarking on a period of significant growth of our electrical, electronics, control and instrumentation capability.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T