With the arrival of autonomous or self-driven automobiles, several states have begun testing these driverless cars on their public roadways and highways alongside other motorists. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Nevada was one of the first to permit Google to test drive an autonomous car on its roads. It was soon followed by Florida and California.
Now Michigan is joining the race to test driverless cars on its roads. Concurrently, a team of Oxford University scientists have created an iPad-driven car with onboard computer controlling the wheels, reports Robotic Trends.
A firm supporter of the technology, Oxford University’s Professor Paul Newman said, “I absolutely believe that having machines in control of cars can make them safer, otherwise there won’t be a product.” Furthermore, he adds, “To say that machines won’t be driving us in the future is much harder to believe and say we are condemned to a future of congestion time wasting and pollution and dangerous driving. It’s very hard to distract a computer.”
For this project, the university scientists adapted a Nissan Leaf electric car. The researchers installed small cameras and a laser on the front bumper to scan the direction of travel as well as to check for obstacles like other vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists. The report says that any obstacles in front of the iPad driven car would activate the brakes.
However, the report suggests that car insurance is still an issue for driverless cars. According to motoring expert Mike Rutherford, “It’s difficult enough to get cars insured when you’re a driver with a decent record and you have no history of crashes or endorsements. Imagine contacting a comparison website and trying to explain that you don’t actually want to drive it, you just want to ride as a passenger in it and the car drives itself.”
Nevertheless, insurers are still looking for some convincing experiences as robotic cars undergo road testing in a number of states. Meanwhile, reports indicate that researchers are hoping to see the technology in commercial cars within 15 years.
Edited by Rich Steeves