Autonomous car trial set for public roads

UK Autodrive has been approved to take its trials of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) onto public roads. The collaboration, involving Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, and Tata Motors, is the largest of its kind, and will head on to the streets of Milton Keynes and Coventry.

The £20 million project announced the news the day after the Queen's Speech confirmed plans for laws to accelerate the roll-out of autonomous vehicles. Currently trials have taken place on proving grounds such as the HORIBA MIRA base in Nuneaton. However, test vehicles will be on city streets by the end of this year.

The UK Autodrive trial is the first in the country to develop and showcase technology that allows cross-manufactuer communication. Cars from the three manufacturers and four brands above are able to understand data sent from models from different manufacturers.

Tata owns Jaguer Land Rover, so it would be unusual if there wasn't any inter-group collaboration between the two very different manufacturers. However, Ford is independent of them both, proving that the project is able to support true interoperablility across different manufacturers.

The three car makers showcased seven different connected car features today (Thursday 22nd June). These are made up of:

Emergency Vehicle Warning (EVW) – Sends a signal directly from the emergency vehicle (e.g. ambulance, fire engine, police vehicle) to nearby connected cars. Driver is informed that the emergency vehicle is approaching and advised to make way for it.

Intersection Collision Warning (ICW) – Warns the driver when it is unsafe to enter an intersection, due to a high probability of collision with other vehicles.

In-Vehicle Signage (IVS) – Sends information about road conditions, congestion or other incidents directly to the in-car display, rather than having to rely on expensive gantry systems.

Electronic Emergency Brake Light (EEBL) – Alerts the driver when a vehicle in front suddenly brakes, providing advanced warning, especially when the driver is unable to see the lights of the braking vehicle due to weather conditions, road layout or other vehicles in between.

Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory (GLOSA) – Sends traffic light information to the connected car which is able to calculate the optimal speed for approaching the lights, potentially minimising the number of red light stops, improving traffic flow and reducing emission levels from idling vehicles.

Intersection Priority Management (IPM) – Assigns priority when two or more connected vehicles come to an intersection without priority signs or traffic lights.

Collaborative Parking – Provides real-time information about free parking spaces either in the vicinity or close to the driver’s final destination.

Jaguar Land Rover demonstrated the company's research technology - Autonomous Urban Drive. An automated Range Rover Sport fitted with prototype systems was able to successfully navigate its way around an urban-style road route, including roundabouts and junctions.

Ford showcased the EVW, with Christian Ress, supervisor, Automated Driving Europe, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, commenting: "Time is precious for emergency services and this technology could help to shave valuable seconds off their journeys by enabling drivers to avoid being an obstruction."

Tim Armitage, Arup's UK Autodrive project director, said: "The successful completion of the proving ground trials marks a significant milestone for the project team, and we are now looking forward to demonstrating the benefits of these exciting new technologies in the real-world settings of Milton Keynes and Coventry.

"Once the technology becomes widely available, we anticipate huge potential benefits in terms of road safety, improved traffic flow and general access to transport, so we're really excited about being able to demonstrate this on real roads.""

The first road trials will be started before the year's end, on segregated routes initially. This will then evolve into open road trials as the three year project draws to a close in around 12 months time.

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:22nd Jun 2017

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