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Autonomous cars to appear on UK roads by the end of the year

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July 17, 2013

The Mobile Robotics Group's autonomous Nissan Leaf

The Mobile Robotics Group's autonomous Nissan Leaf

Autonomous cars will be tested on UK roads before the end of the year, according to a government policy paper published on Tuesday. According to the BBC, trials will take place on less busy rural and suburban roads, using what the paper describes as a semi-autonomous mode which will allow a driver to take control of the vehicle if necessary. A driver will ride along during all tests for safety reasons.

The tests will be carried out by the Mobile Robotics Group at Oxford University which has adapted a Nissan Leaf for autonomous driving. The prototype uses stereo cameras and laser scanners as sensors, and is able to learn frequently driven routes. (See Gizmag's February report for more details of the prototype.)

Google is perhaps the company most closely associated with autonomous driving, though several auto makers have implemented and continue to develop automated driver aids.

"The notion of reading the newspapers and drinking a cup of coffee is a bit far-fetched," Paul Watters of the UK's AA automobile association told the BBC. "It's early days and driverless cars won't be mainstream for a long time. But we have a variety of in-car technologies already, including guided parking and adaptive cruise control, so fully driverless cars will be the culmination of a gradual evolution, not an overnight revolution."

Though it seems likely that Watters is correct in that cars will become more autonomous in stages over the years, Gizmag's recent first-hand experience with Volvo's autonomous technology suggests that progress will be swift.

Source: BBC

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
3 Comments

The problem with autonomous cars is the drivers in the other car.

Mantion
17th July, 2013 @ 05:18 pm PDT

No problem with other drivers...computers can easily outmaneuver them. Humans can handle a couple degrees of freedom - computers see everything and process complete data.

Alan Wells
21st July, 2013 @ 07:16 am PDT

Wells,

If that were the case than autonomous trucks & cars would already have replaced people. The fact is they don't out perform people for the moment unless you load the vehicle up with a million dollars worth of sensors and even then the coding has not been perfected for many scenarios that can occur on a normal day. How does it drive in snow, rain, fog or debris filled wind, what happens when a sensor fails, if a woman pushing a cart across the road and it had to swerve and hit one or the other which would it pick and most importantly can the system be compromised or hacked into? The autonomous option will be quickly becoming more available but won't be replacing people entirely for a long long time.

Matt Fletcher
3rd December, 2013 @ 08:56 am PST
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