Driverless cars to be tested in four cities

04/12/2014
Highways Reporters

Autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles will be tested in Milton Keynes and Coventry after the cities won a £10 million competition to host a driverless cars trial.

Driverless cars will also be tested in Bristol and London, after Chancellor George Osborne announced an additional £9m in funding for the testing.

‘UK Autodrive’, a consortium made up of local authorities, leading technology and automotive businesses and academic institutions, has won the UK government’s ‘Introducing Driverless Cars’ competition.

The aim of the project is to establish the UK as a global hub for the development of autonomous vehicle technologies and to integrate driverless vehicles into existing urban environments by trialling them in two major UK cities. Not only will the programme help develop the new protocols and connected infrastructure required to deliver future autonomous mobility, it will allow the UK Autodrive team to test public reaction to both driverless cars and self-driving pods.

The funding provided by Innovate UK will be matched by the 12 consortium members to create a £19.2m three-year project which will be led by design and engineering consultants Arup. UK Autodrive will deliver a programme of feasibility studies and practical demonstrations in Milton Keynes and Coventry, where the city councils are taking the lead in developing the urban infrastructure technologies required to support driverless mobility.

The feasibility studies will consider the significant implications and challenges of introducing autonomous vehicles from a technical, social and economic perspective.

On-road testing will include the real-world evaluation of passenger cars with increasing levels of autonomy, as well as the development and evaluation of lightweight fully autonomous self-driving pods designed for pedestrianised spaces.

Driverless cars will also be tested in Bristol and London, after Chancellor George Osborne announced an additional £9m in funding for the work.

Tim Armitage, UK Autodrive project director, Arup, said: “The UK Autodrive consortium brings together world-class expertise that will help the UK position itself as a leader in the development and adoption of autonomous driving technologies.

“As well as developing and testing the in-car, car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure technologies that will be required to drive cars autonomously on our roads in the future, the project will also place great emphasis on the role and perceptions of drivers, pedestrians and other road users. The Low-Speed Autonomous Transport System (L-SATS) will provide the first commercial scale demonstration of a solution for last-mile urban mobility which will have global significance.”

Armitage continued: “Our plan with the practical demonstration phases is to start testing with single vehicles on closed roads, and to build up to a point where all road users, as well as legislators, the police and insurance companies, are confident about how driverless pods and fully and partially autonomous cars can operate safely on UK roads.”

The partners in the ‘UK Autodrive’ consortium are Arup, Milton Keynes Council, Coventry Council, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motor Company, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, RDM Group, MIRA, Oxbotica, AXA, international law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, the Transport Systems Catapult, the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and the Open University.

 
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