Would you hand over control of your car ... to your car?
DETAILS have emerged from Oxford University's science engineering department concerning the development of a self- driving car – something which has been the stuff of sci-fi for decades.
Using a Nissan Leaf, a pure electric car that is already packed with technology, the team led by Dr Ingmar Posner and Professor Paul Newman have developed a system that works with the car's integral components to give the driver the option of handing over control in certain conditions.
Prof Newman, 40, says: "Instead of imagining some cars driving themselves all of the time, we should imagine a time when all cars can drive themselves some of the time. The sort of very low-cost, low-footprint autonomy we are developing is what's needed for everyday use."
The secret to the success of this technology is the systems that are built into many modern cars as a matter of course.
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"City safe" systems which monitor the road ahead and apply the brakes in the event of an impending collision are available on inexpensive city cars these days, and although limited to certain conditions, these are the baby steps ahead of full-blown automation.
However, in many respects, it is the human element that will be the hardest to overcome.
Despite evidence to the contrary, we are surprisingly mistrustful of technology and many drivers would be reluctant to hand over control of their car.