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Driverless cars tested on UK roads by Oxford Uni team

15 Feb 2013

A driverless car has been tested on UK roads for the first time by a team from Oxford University.

The Mobile Robotics Group (MRG) at Oxford University showed off its latest work in this area in a series of YouTube videos published on Thursday.

Using its technology, a car is able to accelerate, brake and move along the road through a combination of navigation, planning and control algorithms developed as part of the Oxford University project.

The vehicles used are modified Nissan LEAF cars with laser rangefinders and cameras mounted around the vehicle plus a computer in the boot to perform the calculations necessary to plan, control speed and avoid obstacles.

"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," said Professor Newman, who leads the team.

"The sort of very low cost, low footprint autonomy we are developing is what's needed for everyday use."

The driver manages the car via an iPad mounted in the front, enabling them to acitvate automatic driving whenever the conditions are suitable.

Manual control of the car can be regained at any time simply by pressing the brake pedal.

"It's exactly like cruise control in an existing vehicle - only this time the car sees obstacles, controls speed and steering. It feels very natural," the group said on its website.

The tests come as car technology begins to evolve rapidly. This could see improvements in health monitoring, emergency response and voice controls.

Google has been leading this charge with its self-driving cars clocking up some 300,000 miles of testing already.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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