The self-driving car: it's coming
Govt pledges a £10m prize for driverless car research. TG's Paul Horrell investigates
Posted: 04 Dec 2013
The experimental car uses the same sensors - long- and shorter-range radars for cruise control and emergency braking, a stereo camera and a normal camera. It adds three more: a radar sensor pointing to each side to detect traffic at junctions and a rearward one too. But what's really new is the computing power and the software, and the "sensor fusion" - the software's ability to look at the output of all these radars and cameras. And then do the job you and I do: figure out what's going on.
Then, of course, the car has to act on it. Decisions about junctions, roundabouts, pedestrian crossings, red lights, and when it's safe to move into the path of oncoming traffic to get around a parked lorry or roadworks. The trip wasn't rehearsed as such, but the car's navigation database had to be bolstered with extra info about lane markers, pedestrian crossings and traffic lights. Plus a database of photos along the route was installed in the car. It compared the images from the camera with those stored ones, and when they matched it knew exactly where it was, far more precisely than by GPS alone.