The days of getting stuck in traffic jams and being frustrated by other drivers could well be over as Oxford University has developed an autonomous robotic vehicle. The technology, which has been installed on a Wildcat vehicle built by BAE systems, interprets its surroundings and makes decisions about where to go.
The team of researchers at Oxford University believe the technology which features sensors, cameras, radars and lasers mounted on the car could make Global Positions Systems (GPS) obsolete. The autonomous Wildcat has a more accurate navigation system by interpreting local traffic conditions, tracks risks, lowers vehicle emissions as well as giving the driver a hands-free experience.
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“Only by understanding its environment can an autonomous vehicle genuinely drive itself, safely, without the need for human intervention,” said Professor Paul Newman of Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science, who is leading the research. “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 overall cost of road congestion to UK business is estimated to rise to £23-24 billion a year within the next 15 years according to a recent parliamentary report. While many will argue the answer could be increased public transport, more people seem unwilling to give up their own vehicles and the freedom these provide.
“The good news is we are not doomed to a future of traffic congestion and accidents,” said Professor Newman. “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.”