Driverless robot car can self navigate

A £2million prototype vehicle with spatial awareness and the ability to navigate and drive itself has been unveiled by engineers at Oxford University.

The modified Wildcat car, developed in conjunction with BAE Systems, interprets data from cameras, radar and lasers to 'see' its surroundings and negotiate them safely. The hope is that it could one day eliminate traffic jams and improve traffic safety.

Professor Paul Newman of Oxford University's Department of Engineering Science, who is leading the research, said: "Only by understanding its environment can an autonomous vehicle genuinely drive itself, safely, without the need for human intervention.

"Our long term aim is to enable a new generation of robotic vehicles that can make the roads safer, less congested, cleaner, and personal transport more accessible. We do this by making smarter cars."

The Oxford project has been given £1.4million by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research council and is a collaborative effort between the university, BAE and Nissan.

Prof Newman maintained that the breakthrough represents 'just the beginning' of a technological revolution in driving, and believes the technology could start appearing in production vehicles within 15 years.

Laura Hopperton

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