The DRIVEN consortium has celebrated a key milestone in its 30-month government-supported project by demonstrating the capabilities of a fleet of self-driving vehicles in London’s challenging and complex urban environment.
The jointly-funded £13.6m programme gave a week-long demonstration on public roads around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford – establishing the UK’s world-leading autonomous vehicle (AV) technology in challenging every-day conditions.
The DRIVEN programme – powered by Oxbotica’s autonomous software – said it confirms that autonomous vehicles can operate smoothly, safely and legally in complex real-life situations, with a safety driver present, on typical public roads in Europe’s biggest mega-city.
DRIVEN said recently that it has taken a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges facing self-driving vehicles in the cities of London and Oxford, going beyond the technical obstacles and examining the entire autonomous vehicle ‘ecosystem’. It combines a wide range of technical experts in areas such as local authority planning, insurance, cyber-security and data trading.
The coalition of experts include Oxbotica, Oxford Robotics Institute, Axa XL, Nominet, Telefonica, TRL, RACE, Oxfordshire County Council and Transport for London (TfL). The project is adhering fully to the Department for Transport’s Code of Practice and TfL’s recently published London-specific guidance for Connected and Autonomous Trials.
Minister of State at the Department for Transport, George Freeman MP, said: :Self-driving technology has the scope to revolutionise the way people travel, with potentially profound benefits for road safety, accessibility and convenience. We want to drive the roll-out of self-driving vehicles and continue to support innovators developing this ground-breaking technology.
'The success of trials like project DRIVEN underpin our Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy, highlighting our ongoing support for innovation, research and the trialling of exciting new technology which cements our position as a global leader in this space.'
The DRIVEN initiative – with matched funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and industry – has sought to address fundamental real-world challenges facing self-driving vehicles. It has focused on completing fully autonomous routes within the dense complex urban environments of London and Oxford, showing Oxbotica’s UK-developed technology’s competitive advantage in such environments.
DRIVEN said the prototype vehicles have succeeded driving in complex urban environments without the need for human input, exceeding the initial plan in terms of complexity and achievement. 'This means that fully autonomous vehicles have made an important step forward towards everyday operation on our roads.' it added.