DESPITE its academic reputation, Oxford has a long history of car-making and next year this could be taken to a whole new level.
The city could become one of three places where driverless cars are tested on public roads.
At the moment the university team, which is experimenting with an autonomous Nissan that uses small cameras and lasers to navigate, can only test it on private roads like Begbroke Science Park.
But yesterday the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced that up to three cities will be selected to host the trials from next year – and each project is expected to last between 18 and 36 months and start in January 2015.
Professor Ingmar Posner, co-leader of Oxford University’s mobile robotics group, said: “This is great news and will be really helpful as we look at how autonomous vehicles could help to ease traffic congestion and deliver a safer and more pleasant driving experience.
"It’s a real opportunity for UK cities to show how autonomous vehicles could be right at the heart of the urban transport systems of the future.”
Oxford University’s system costs around £5,000 and is controlled from an iPad on the dashboard which flashes up a prompt offering the driver the option of the car taking over on a familiar route.
Cities across the UK can now bid for a share of a £10 million competition to host a driverless cars trial.
County council leader Ian Hudspeth has said he has already had talks with the robotics team about putting in a bid.
He said: “We are considering it and we have got until October to express our interest. We have got this technology going on in Oxfordshire and we want to promote it and be there right at the forefront. It could also provide a different form of public transport.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society.”
Nissan carried out the first test of a driverless car on a public road in Japan in 2013.
APPLIANCE OF SCIENCE
- The technology is built into the body of the car and linked to a computer in the boot.
- It works in areas where the technology has experience of the environment in which it is being used, as it stores previous journeys in memory.
- The system is controlled from an iPad on the dashboard which flashes up a prompt offering the driver the option of the car taking over on a familiar route.
- Touching the screen of the tablet then switches to auto drive, when the robotic system takes over.
- At any time a tap on the brake pedal will return control to the human driver.
- Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.
Our top stories
11:50am Tuesday 3rd June 2014
OXFORD Mail readers can now sign up to get major breaking news alerts sent direct to their mobile phones with a new service using Whatsapp.
9:00am Tuesday 9th September 2014
RESIDENTS in Woodstock have vowed to “fight until the bitter end” against plans to build up to 1,500 homes east of the town.
9:00am Tuesday 9th September 2014
STAGECOACH Oxfordshire has warned that passengers face delays of up to 40 minutes this morning.
8:30am Tuesday 9th September 2014
A DETECTIVE has been sacked after harassing a member of police staff, the force said yesterday.
8:00am Tuesday 9th September 2014
RESIDENTS say they are worried about another attempt by boat owners to grab land alongside waterways in the city.
6:30am Tuesday 9th September 2014
A TEENAGER accused of breaking her baby daughter’s leg broke down in tears as she was cleared yesterday.