back to article Driving a car? There's an app for that

Researchers at Australia's Griffith University have built an electric car that can be driven, without human intervention, by software runing on an Android smartphone. Dr Jun Jo of the University's Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems said the car, built by students from Helensvale State High School, tests the …


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  1. Martin Huizing
    Thumb Up

    Why use your own phone?

    Use the built in phone and log in with your gmail account (or heck, even finger print) and automatically download preferences and settings automatically...

    One forward facing camera? What about side view or Rear view for that matter.

    I understand the use of a phone as it is small, cheap and has a lot of computing power. Today's smart phones are hilariously underutilized IMHO.

    And I do like the idea of sharing cars. Especially a car which is able to drive to where you are and then takes you from A to B. The biggest problem is that either everyone has auto-drive, or no-one. Human error will be the major influence into getting this tech onto the open road and you can only get stats when driver-less cars actually roam the earth.

    Maybe these kids will get a job offer from Google as they have been experimenting with driver-less cars for a while now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And if

      You lose your wifi connection?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Clever in principle

      But what practical everyday purpose can it really serve? Especially that when on the road you will be subject to the statutory fine for using a mobile while driving.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Half way to your destination your phone decides its time to upgrade your OS from ICS to Jelly Bean.............

  2. AndyS

    Very interesting project, but the use of a user-owned smart phone smacks of gimmick.

    The idea of plugging in an unknown, untrusted, uncalibrated, user-owned piece of hardware as a primary navigation device for a car terrifies me. The opportunities for error are endless, even discounting the massive and very real opportunities for malicious use.

    If the car has enough navigation power to get to you, it must already have redundant systems, so that argument is out of the window. Why not store all these preferences as a small, standardised text file which you can "squirt" automatically as you approach the car?

    All that said, gimmicks are sometimes an interesting way to explore what's obviously an interesting concept, so long as they don't take it too seriously...

  3. simlb
    Paris Hilton

    OK as a proof of concept...

    But while it's connected can you still:

    Make & receive a phone call?

    Send & receive text messages?

    Synchronise your emails?

    Update Faceache/Twatter?

    Surf the Web?

    Play Angry Birds?

    And what happens if the phone battery goes flat or you go in a tunnel or built-up area and lose the GPS signal? Will the car stop automatically or just keep going straight on and plough into a wall or queue of people at a bus stop?

    Can't see this happening TBH.

    Paris, because she can't drive a nail in wood either.

    1. Daf L

      Re: OK as a proof of concept...

      " on-board PC that performs all the same control functions as the smartphone and also serves as a backup unit..."

      I'm taking a wild guess here but maybe the on board PC will kick in - like a backup?

      1. Charles 9

        Re: OK as a proof of concept...

        But GPS signals are the same strength whether being read by the phone or by the PC. And as mentioned, skyscraper cities like New York and tunnels tend to block the GPS signal, making them useless no matter which device you use. And even GPS isn't much help in a dense traffic situation (think New York City at rush hour), as there can be potential dangers coming from every direction, maybe even above, and not all of them are vehicular.

        1. Daf L

          Re: OK as a proof of concept...

          Are you under the impression that it uses GPS to actually keep the car in between the white lines of the road and stop it crashing?

          1. Charles 9

            Re: OK as a proof of concept...

            It BETTER be, or I wouldn't trust it to drive. The margin of error on even current GPS technology sometimes shows me driving on the wrong side of a motorway. That doesn't give me a lot of confidence about self-driving programs. There are lots of parallel roads in my area; being placed on the wrong one could have serious consequences.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Real World...

    So, my sister used to borrow my car, and leave the bloody tank empty. I did the same when I used to use Dad's car before that TBH, but to the point.

    Sister has called up the car and it's taken her and a bunch of mates into town. She's left it there and not filled it up. I decide to call it to come home from work, and it's driving to me and runs out of fuel. What then? I walk to the car with a 5ltr can of petrol/hydrogen/fuel of the week? Another car of a friend is selected (maybe a friend on Facebook) comes and rescues me, takes me to the petrol/hydrogen station to get the fuel then takes me to my car to recover it? Then both cars take me back to the station to refuel mine and put the used fuel back into the rescue car? Car drives it's self to the nearest fuel stop, and gets filled up by a meat sack, who charges then who? Me? My friends I 'share' my car with?

    Fuel is becoming so expensive I feel this may become a bit of a sticking point, knowing human nature.

    1. Justicesays
      Big Brother

      Re: Real World...

      I wouldn't worry about it,

      We already have something thats a lot like this, they are called "Taxis", but use a meatbag Human for navigation instead of an android phone.

      Based on that and the fact things rarely get cheaper, you wont be able to afford to call for a car very often anyway.

      Anyway, the idea is you wont own a car, you will subscribe to "Autocars" (not the magazine) who will be a near monopoly or part of a cartel to keep prices unreasonably high. They will have slightly too few cars to provide everyone with a car when they need it, but will take car of fueling and maintaining the cars while gently extracting all your cash for the privilege.

      If your car gets low enough on fuel to require a fill/charge up, you will be summarily ejected from the car to the side of the road while it goes off to find a maintenance point. Eventually another car will come and pick you up from the pouring rain to continue your journey.

      Welcome to the future.

      1. Test Man
        Thumb Up

        Re: Real World...

        "If your car gets low enough on fuel to require a fill/charge up, you will be summarily ejected from the car to the side of the road while it goes off to find a maintenance point."


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Real World... "Autocars"

        The government/ energy companies/ reptilians will control and deploy the motive units but we may still own a passenger compartment.

        The fee market will still want to take advantage of personal choice and spending but energy control will be taken back to state. You have the seats but hire the motor.

        If you have less funds you have a low spec, light build, no frills compartment with its light motive requirements but the rich can go decked out with plus body air-con bling and better crash protection, they will need a bigger motive unit (or two) so they get charged more for road miles.

        It's crazy that we currently see 4x4s in the same configuration whether it has one passenger or it is towing a horse box.

        A basic personal compartment may have enough of its own wheels and motors to park or move slowly short distances round a city but anything more means you'll call "AutoMotive". The motive units are constantly maintained and tailored to current energy sources.

        In Tokyo I assume once parked the unit will be elevated to form part of your house.

        Want to go on holiday and take half the living room - no problem...

    2. FunkyEric

      Re: Real World...

      Well apart from the obvious fact that it will log your mileage and automatically route itself to the nearest filling station to refuel when it needs too and bill the users appropriately for their petrol.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    > Once such cars arrive, users will dock their phones (facing forward so

    > their cameras can see the road) to assist with navigational chores.

    A purpose built car with loads of custom self-steering gear on board and the brains will be a plugged in mobe?

    Again, WTF!?

    He's obviously a mad hippie.

    1. Thorne

      Re: WTF!?

      Nobody seriously thinks cars will be driven by mobiles. It's useful enough as a portable computer for prototyping but you don't want angry birds taking control of your car and running over some pigs...

  6. Graham Bartlett

    Toadal Recall

    Anyone else remembering the cages that Arnie and co got strapped into when they were shot into the arena? (Yes I know that was Running Man, but something involving vintage-looking cars and an Arnie reference, I couldn't resist.)

  7. TRT Silver badge

    Not an android...

    Clearly a person driving that car.

  8. Wize

    '“Automatically-driven cars will wait near your house or office. They'll knows your schedule and will arrange all the bookings in advance” he suggests.'

    All sounds like the current system of taxis but a more advanced booking system.

    What if you want to drive to see your relatives in the next town on a whim?

    What if the user before you sat and sweated/farted for the last hour before you get it?

    What about all the junk in my trunk that I use occasionally, but not enough to warrant carrying it back and forth every time I make a trip?

    Think I'll stick with user owned vehicles. The car-less can move to New York if they want.

  9. Mattlouckss

    That is pretty much impressive and a topic to be thought upon. Sharing of cars would make things so much easier and modernized.

    1. ItsNotMe

      "Sharing of cars would make things so much easier and modernized."

      Except, if the car you are sharing is being used by someone else at the time YOU need it...and the other person has no intent on giving it up to you...because they are not finished doing what they are doing. Then what?

      Are you going to be sharing with 2...3...4...5 other people, so you have a backup car? And who is paying for all of these "shared" cars? Oh yea...really "modernized".

      1. Thorne

        Re: "Sharing of cars would make things so much easier and modernized."

        Realistically it's not going to make much difference to the number of cars and in fact may actually increase the number because people who currently cannot drive will be able to use a self drive vehicle.

        Husband has his car. Wife has her car and a third car picks up and drops the kids at school / sport / swimming / grandma's house.

        Where self drive will make a difference is cars will be able to drive faster, closer and safer than a human driver so the same roads will be able to carry more vehicles. Parking issues will also be solved as the vehicle can come and pick you up.

        A lot of these vehicles refuling won't be an issue as they can be completely electric. After the vehicle drops you at work, it returns home and plugs itself back in for recharging.

  10. ItsNotMe

    And just how long...

    ...before we read an obituary of Dr. Jo being squashed by a 10 tonne lorry, whilst out testing "on the open road or amid traffic, as many systems need to be tested to ensure safety."

  11. Captain Scarlet

    Cars will arrive for you

    What do they do when they have nothing to do, will we have hundreds of cars loitering with nothing to do at nightime?

  12. RainForestGuppy

    “Automatically-driven cars will wait near your house or office. They'll knows your schedule and will arrange all the bookings in advance” he suggests

    Or even better. Will drive you home after a heavy session down the boozer, stopping off on the Kebab shop on the way home to pick up the Doner with chilli sauce it pre-ordered based on your preferences.

    1. Thorne

      "Or even better. Will drive you home after a heavy session down the boozer, stopping off on the Kebab shop on the way home to pick up the Doner with chilli sauce it pre-ordered based on your preferences."

      Bugger waiting for the kebab. The car will pick it up on the way to collect you

  13. Random Yayhoo

    Anybody who designs a car...

    with a roll bar 15cm too short will not get my business. Still, good ventilation in prototype.

    I can't wait to see shared self-driving vehicles so I can issue road rage provocations upon the external telly...

  14. John A Blackley

    Where do you put the luggage?

    The post is required, and must contain letters.

  15. Neoc

    How long before...

    ...Apple "suggests" using their proprietary plug instead of USB?

  16. Ascylto
    Big Brother


    Looks like it''s made of bits of Airfix, Ikea and Scalextric.

    Yup, it's Android alright!

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