Scientists work on car that ‘drives itself’

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The shape of motoring in the future in which a car can “drive itself” for sections of a journey has been revealed.

Using a specially-adapted Nissan Leaf electric car, a team at Oxford University is conducting tests of robotic technology. The work is a milestone on the way to creating everyday vehicles that can offer “auto drive” for some parts of a journey, taking the strain off drivers during a busy commute or school run.

The low-cost navigation system can recognise its surroundings using small cameras and lasers discreetly built into the body of the adapted electric road car and linked to a computer in the boot. The technology is controlled from an iPad on the dashboard that flashes up a prompt offering the driver the option of the car taking over for a portion of a familiar route. Touching the screen then switches to auto drive where the robotic system takes over.