Oxford University’s new project “auto drive” is directed at modifying a Nissan Leaf electric car into a self drive “robotic” car controlled by an iPad, iMore reports. The project’s target is to enable the car to drive itself for short stretches, which could allow a “stress free school run for parents or a productive work commute for others”.
The car, which is based on a modified Nissan Leaf, is powered solely by electricity and requires a suitable power point rather than a gas station. The system has been developed by the University and uses small cameras and lasers built into the cars bodywork which all link back to a trunk mounted computer. The iPad becomes the front end and is fitted within the cars dashboard.
The whole user experience is provided by an iPad which quickly guides the user through the few checks that are needed to induce autonomy. When it is safe to do so, the car offers the drive the chance to be driven automatically.
There are three computers onboard. The iPad, the LLC (Low Level Controller) and the MVC (Main Vehicle Computer). The iPad runs the user interface and demands constant attention from the LLC. If any of these computers disagree the driver will not be able to start autonomous driving. If at any point there is a problem when the car is in control the human driver is prompted to take control, if they fail to do so the car is automatically brought to a stop.
Below is a video showing how the system works. It’s much like an advanced version of cruise control, where the car can also see obstacles, control speed and the steering wheel.