robotcar Move over Google, Oxford University tests their very own robotic car

Researchers from Oxford University just successfully tested their own self-driving car on U.K. highways.  Very similar to Google’s cars, the 'Robotcar' can brake, accelerate and navigate on familiar roads with accurate precision.

Technology that was developed by Oxford University was successfully tested on a new self-driving car.  Dubbed the ‘Robotcar’, this new self-driving vehicle is very similar to the type that Google has been experimenting with in California and recently approved for highway testing. However, the Robotcar has its own system of navigation.

The Oxford Robotcar was made from a modified all-electric Nissan Leaf.  It is equipped with cameras and laser rangefinders all around the car that help navigate the vehicle with complete safety.  The car also has a very sophisticated computer operation that performs millions of computations a second while it is in operation.  It is able to accelerate, decelerate and avoid objects that might dart out in its way much faster than any human could.

Paul Newman who heads Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science said that they’d like to create a car that can be driven part time by a person. “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, “Newman said, “The sort of very low cost, low footprint autonomy we are developing is what's needed for everyday use."

Interestingly, the driverless Robotcar uses an actual iPad mounted to the dash, which activates the car to driverless mode when needed.  Much like the way cruise control on a car operates, an individual can take control of the car from the computer by simply tapping the break pedal.

Google’s driverless car makes use of varying computer readings and GPS, while the Robotcar uses laser range finders and mapping technology.  Newman said that the recent advancements in 3D laser mapping is what helped the team develop how the car navigates.  In a sense, this car literally sees what’s around it and uploads those images to discern if they are obstacles.

Newman feels that it is this type of hybrid driving technology is where cars are headed. With this system, it can allow a driver to take a break on long, mundane commutes to and from work, or simply allow one the enjoyment of driving for a short trip on the weekend.