"The scientists behind the system say it is far superior to conventional satellite navigation because it is much more precise – reading to within a fraction of an inch compared with a few yards with sat-nav – and the car does not need a satellite reference to know where it is," reports Daily Mail of UK.
RobotCar, a specially adapted Nissan Leaf electric car, has small cameras and lasers built into its chassis. When the car is driven manually the lasers and cameras act as its ‘eyes’, mapping a 3D model of its surroundings, which is fed into a computer stored in the boot.
The car can then ‘remember’ roads and suburbs, allowing it to drive itself along familiar routes.
It asks the driver via an iPad on the dashboard whether they want to engage the autopilot and, at a touch of the screen, the car takes over the controls.
A laser under the front bumper scans the direction of travel around 13 times per second for obstacles, such as pedestrians, cyclists, or other cars, up to 164ft ahead and in an 85 degree field of view.
If the car sees an obstacle, it slows and comes to a controlled stop. The driver can also tap the brake pedal, like in current cruise control systems, to regain control from the computer at any time.