Sunday, February 17, 2013

Is Oxford's Self-Drive Car Better than Google's?

From Technology Review:
Oxford’s Self-Driving Car (on the Left Side of the Road)
Across the pond, Oxford swerves into Google’s self-driving lane. 
Self-driving cars aren’t just the realm of corporate giants like Google. Academia plays a big role in this space too, as the BBC points out.  Oxford University’s department of engineering science is behind something called the Oxford RobotCar UK project.

The chaps at Oxford use a Nissan LEAF as their base vehicle (they’ve teamed up with Nissan since September 2012, in fact). The Oxford team uses reflective beacons and guide wires to help the car self-navigate. GPS, the team reports, “does not offer the accuracy required for robots to make decisions about how and when to move safely.” (Bear that in mind, next time you turn a robot loose with your iPhone maps app.)...
...The whole system costs £5,000, but Newman told the BBC costs could be drastically reduced, potentially to as low as £100. Newman seems to think his team’s device will inevitably be cheaper than Google’s more-renowned experiments: “if you look at it, we don’t need a 3D laser spinning on the roof ...MORE
Lancaster University's Martin Spring is pretty fired up:
...As with many technologies, the early implementation will try to mimic what has gone before. But once you shake off the constraint of it having to look like a car, you can envisage a very different vehicle: it could look like a small room where people do what they want while the car is moving. And if you don't need lights to navigate, you don't need streetlights. Or headlights."...
More at the Guardian

And Spring's paper:
Self-driving cars
A case study in making new markets