Oxford University researchers have developed a self-driving car that uses lasers and small cameras to memorize regular routes. "It's not depending on [global positioning systems], digging up the roads, or anything like that--it's just the vehicles knowing where they are because they recognize their surroundings," says Oxford professor Paul Newman.
The technology allows the car to gain control when driving on roads it already has traveled. At first, a human drives the car, and it builds a three-dimensional model of its environment. When the car goes on the same route again, an iPad built into the dashboard gives a prompt to the driver, offering to let the computer take control of the car. The driver can regain control of the car at any time by tapping on the brake pedal.
"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," Newman says.
Google also is developing driverless-car technology, but Newman says the U.K. effort uses all of its own technology.
"I would be astounded if we don't see this kind of technology in cars within 15 years," he says.
From BBC News
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