Tuesday, 10 April 2012


Oxford University scientists introduce the first driverless car on Britain's roads. The vehicle, a modified BAE Wildcat military jeep, will be programmed with a three-dimensional map of routes around Oxford and nearby Woodstock.

The robotic car uses a series of sensors, including cameras and lasers, to calculate its exact location. It can sense the presence of other vehicles on the road and take avoiding action if necessary, something that driverless cars equipped with GPS-based technology have been unable to do.
Professor Paul Newman, head of the mobile robotics group at the university, said the vehicle had made its first driverless journey last week on a private road at the university's Begbroke science park."We want to use it on normal everyday roads where other people would use them. Central Oxford would be nice, also Woodstock because of the variable terrain and roads," the Telegraph quoted Newman as saying. He added that a research team member would be in the car during testing to take control in the event of an emergency.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, BAE and Nissan have backed the driverless car project and the government has already given 2m pounds in funding for the project. Google has led driverless car technology in the US, where the state of Nevada has already approved the testing of autonomous vehicles on the state's roads. Legally the cars still require two operators to be inside the vehicle during testing. Other road users can identify the cars by their unique red license plates. (ANI)


Spin-out companies from Isis continue to make the headlines. Yasa Motors, formed in 2009, is supplying electric motors to the recently launched Lola-Drayson Formula 1 racer (pictured below), which functions as
a technology demonstration platform showing the potential of an electric
2005 spin-out Oxford Nanopore announced its ‘game changing’ and ‘truly disruptive’ MinION DNA sequencer to enthusiastic media response. The size of a USB memory stick, it is expected to retail at less
than $900 and is set to revolutionise the industry.

Featured on the cover of this edition is a fully autonomous road vehicle, based on a Bowler Wildcat, being used by the Mobile Robotics Group to demonstrate the futuristic concept of infrastructure-free navigation. Oxford University Consulting, part of Isis, is providing access to the information engineering expertise of this group for terrestrial and maritime applications

Early successes from the Isis Software Incubator After just a year the Isis Software Incubator already has two successful start-up companies to its name – Pilio (highlighted in Isis Insights 66) and TheySay, a powerful Sentiment Analysis tool which launched in February to widespread interest. Further successful exits will be
announced over the coming months.

International expansion Following the establishment of Isis offices in China and Spain, we have now opened an office in Japan. Headed by Kenji Aiba OBE, the office in Kyoto is a focal point of Isis’ activity to strengthen business relationships with industry, investors and academia in


Monday, 9 April 2012

Oxford v Cambridge: A year in the life of the boat race

The Boat Race Trophy showing Oxford's win last year by 4 lengths. This year's race was on Saturday 7 April at 2.15pm. Watch Oxford's preparation for the race in this series of 6 films on the Oxford Today website.
Each year, approximately 250,000 spectators watch the world famous Oxford and Cambridge boat race from the banks of the river Thames in London, while the global audience is estimated to be 120 million.
For a period of six months, from the start of Michaelmas Term when the young hopefuls trial for a place on the boat race team, through to the great day itself, Oxford Today is taking a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to row for Oxford. The first film shows the September boat club trials, and has a interview with former Blue, and Olympic Gold Medallist, Andy Hodge (St Catherine's 2004). This and subsequent films discuss the commitment needed, the difficulties of juggling academic rigours with a gruelling rowing schedule, the physical pain, as well as the joy of being part of such a celebrated crew.
In addition, each film has a piece of specially commissioned music by David Hughes. David is a third-year music undergraduate at Somerville College, who is specialising in composition. Recent compositional highlights have included a children's opera written collaboratively with Oxford students and members of Garsington Opera, A Quartet which was workshopped by the Heath Quartet, and a setting of the Nunc Dimittis which has been performed in Somerville Chapel, Downside Abbey and Winchester Cathedral.
Filmed with the kind co-operation of the River and Rowing Museum, Henley.

Click below to watch the sixth film