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Photos: The robot car that drives itself

Meet the automated chauffeur of the future...

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Topic: Hardware
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1 of 5 Oxford University

Oxford University Robot Car

Meet the automated chauffeur of the future...

Meet the robot car that is able to drive itself and knows how to route its way around traffic jams.

Researchers at Oxford University modified a Wildcat vehicle built by BAE systems to be able to 'see' the world around it using cameras, radars and lasers mounted on the car.

An onboard computer processes the data collected by these sensors and is able to steer the car around hazards in the road. The system 'sees' by building a 3D map of its environment using the sensor data and picking out potential obstacles or other significant objects. The team are training the system to be able to distinguish between different types of objects in its 3D map of its surroundings.

The aim is to develop an "autonomous" vehicle that is able to spot hazards and safely drive to a destination without anyone at the wheel.

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2 of 5 Oxford University

Oxford University Robot Car

The academic leading the research, professor Paul Newman of Oxford University's department of engineering science, believes the technology could make travelling by road safer and easier.

"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," he said in a statement.

"We need cars that do the thinking and concentrating for you, cars that do not insist you do the driving all the time. If the going is slow why can't I watch the show I missed last night, Skype with the kids, read a book or send that last email and elect the car to handle the drudgery of the trip for me?"

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3 of 5 Oxford University

Oxford University Robot Car

Researchers said the system doesn't rely on any infrastructure embedded into the roadside in order to control the car.

The car has been tested on routes around the Begbroke Science Park near Oxford.

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4 of 5 Oxford University

Oxford University Robot Car

The Oxford research is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and in collaboration with BAE Systems and Nissan.

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5 of 5 Oxford University

Oxford University Robot Car

The Oxford researchers firmly believe that self-driving cars are the future of road transport.

"The good news is we are not doomed to a future of traffic congestion and accidents," Professor Newman said in a statement.

"In the future, autonomous robotic vehicles, using systems similar to those we are developing, will get us safely and efficiently from A to B whilst taking the load off their human drivers."

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