Fancy for a car that is smart enough it can safely drive for you and ensure those within the vicinity outside of your vehicle remain safe, too?
Researchers said such dreams may come true and if Griffith University robotics expert Jun Jo is to be believed, his research works would soon produce an automatically-driven that will be ready for actual testing by 2013.
Dr Jo said that his team of researchers envisioned such car's commercial availability over the next 10 years, with a prototype already built with close cooperation from students and faculty members of Helensvale State High School, according to reports by News Ltd.
"In the future, cars will be driven automatically and you call and catch a car, which is close to you. You will release it when you arrive at your destination," Dr Jo was reported by News.Com.Au as saying on Monday.
The automation will be made possible via one of the most ubiquitous gadgets that man carries with him at most times - the smartphone, which will employ technologies already in deployment with the latest car models available to the public.
His team, Dr Jo said, has developed an affordable vision-based automation system that could instruct smartphones "where to go and make it automatically pay for the usage of the car when you get off."
The whole system is fully customisable to drivers' specific preferences, meaning owners of automated cars can personalise the settings of their programs, Dr Jo said.
The core safety features of his research will exploit lane detection, laser detection and ranges sensors that major carmakers have been planning to include with their existing and future models as part of efforts to modernise and increase safety of their products, he added.
"Smartphones these days come with quad-core processors, which operate fast enough for vision analysis and car control. A PC runs the same program as well as the smartphone for safety backup, just in case the smartphone malfunctions,'' the Griffith expert told News Ltd.
"We will make the control system safe and stable, using both a PC and a smartphone," he added.
Dr Jo's disclosure came out as General Motors (GM) announced its plans to use smartphones that would alert drivers or even automatically-driven vehicles on the presence of other entities in the road.
GM said its new safety feature will take advantage of the Wi-Fi Direct technology, which would allow smartphones to detect road movements and human presence within a radius of 200 metres.
As the technology bypasses the need for a common access point, object or person detection is almost real time, with only a second required for recognition, according to GM global R&D director Nady Boules.
"This new wireless capability could warn drivers about pedestrians who might be stepping into the roadway from behind a parked vehicle, or bicyclists who are riding in the car's blind spot," the GM executive was quoted by Car Advice as saying on Monday.
Once fully developed, the new safety features will be included on future General Motors vehicle releases, first in the United States and then in other key global markets, to significantly reduce the number of road accidents involving cars, pedestrians and other regular road fixtures.
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