Oxford University in the UK is testing out a driverless version of the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle controlled from an Apple iPad mounted on the dashboard. The Leaf is guided by a low cost system that uses cameras and lasers hidden in the body of the car to gauge its surroundings. The iPad flashes and offers the driver the option to take over a portion of the route, and touching the screen switches back into “auto drive” where the computer controlled system takes over.
Currently being tested at Begbroke Science Park near Oxford, the next stage of testing will work on enabling a new robotic system to understand and interpret complex traffic flow as well as make decisions on the best routes to take.
The current prototype navigation system costs an estimates 5,000 pounds, but “Long-term, our goal is to produce a system costing around 100 pounds,” said Professor Paul Newman – a co-leader of the study.