iTaxi! iPad app hails self-driving cab

Sticking your hand in the air and whistling: there's an app for that. A German team has designed an iPad app for hailing a cab, but it's no ordinary taxi...

Sticking your hand in the air and whistling: there's an app for that. A German team working on a self-driving car has come up with an iPad and iPhone app that could one day let you hail a driverless taxi from wherever you are.

The team's MadeInGermany car is a souped-up Volkswagen Passat equipped with Lidar range-finder and radar technology, enabling it to sense its surroundings. The car also has a Velodyne laser system on the roof that enables 360-degree collision detection, and GPS that lets it work out where it's going.

The AutoNOMOS project -- see what they did there -- at the Freie Universität Berlin has been developing self-driving cars since 2006. The team made the semi-finals of the renowned Darpa Urban Challenge, a competition in which driverless vehicles are shown off to the US military.

Self-driving cars have been in the news lately after Google revealed it is testing them. The German team has spotted the potential for some press coverage by creating that most de rigueur of 21st-century accessories: an iPad and iPhone app.

The video below shows the potential for hip young tablet-toters to order up a taxi from their mobile device. To complete the experience, we'd like autonomous taxis to offer a choice between genially spouting local knowledge and insider tips, and faintly racist rambling.

The car can also be driven from an iPhone app, like in the chase scene in the otherwise forgettable James Bond outing Tomorrow Never Dies. Self-driving cars are all very well, but GPS is no substitute for a driver with a detailed knowledge of the local area, as Crave has conclusively proved.

Still, a self-driving car should at least get rid of all those terrible drivers out there. While we wait for autonomous automobiles to hit the roads, here's our list of top car tech for rubbish drivers.

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