Monday, 9 April 2012

Remote control cars?

The Department for Transport has a project looking at Intelligent Speed Adaptation. ISA  is a system by which the vehicle 'knows' the permitted or recommended maximum speed for a road and makes this information available to the driver or limits the vehicle maximum speed to the local limit. I blogged about something like this ages ago on a different site.

In my book Cold Suspenders, which is set slightly in the future I expanded this ability to control other parts of the car. One could imagine that once a system is in place, Governments will love to extend the use of it. Even with just the speed restriction, the Highways Authority could cause your car to halt if there was an accident ahead, or if you tried to enter a cordoned off area.

I was set thinking about this again by an article in the New Scientist about "Driverless Cars".   The self driving Lucas Jaguar PROMETHEUS car from 1994 had some interesting features - . The video shows what could be done with the technology then. The article says that  the media were not impressed, describing the idea of cars that drive themselves as "madness".

Now take a look at the Google Blog where you will find:

So we have developed technology for cars that can drive themselves. Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research.

All very interesting, and of course it would rely on all sorts of other technological stuff already in use, and some yet to be developed. One suspects an awful lot of reliance on Satnav type stuff.
"Automation of cars is going to happen," says Paul Newman, a robotics engineer,  "Computing has caused devastating change and transport is going to be its next target."
Newman's team at the University of Oxford is developing autonomous cars - The Oxford Mobile Robotics Group.  


  1. Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA), also known as Intelligent Speed Assistance and Speed Alerting, is any system that constantly monitors vehicle speed and the local speed limit on a road and implements an action when the vehicle is detected to be exceeding the speed limit. This can be done through an advisory system, where the driver is warned, or through an intervention system where the driving systems of the vehicle are controlled automatically to reduce the vehicle’s speed.


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