Findings from autonomous project released
A project launched in 2014 to examine the challenges and opportunities of autonomous cars, pods and mobility within urban environments has released its findings, highlighting key areas that still need addressing if the potential of this technology is to be realised.
In December 2014 UK Autodrive was named as the largest of three successful consortia to be selected by Innovate UK's 'Introducing driverless cars to UK roads' competition.
In late 2018 the project successfully concluded, with the world's first multi-modal journey featuring connected and autonomous road- and pavement-based vehicles.
The findings and successes of this ground-breaking project, which included partners Arup, Milton Keynes Council, Coventry City Council, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motor Company, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, RDM Group, HORIBA-MIRA, AXA, Gowling WLG, Thales, Connected Places Catapult, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and the Open University, have now been published.
The project had three main elements: Cars' programme, focused on the development and trialling of connected and autonomous passenger cars; 'Pods' programme, focused on the development and trialling of a new form of 'last-mile' electric-powered pod vehicle; and 'Cities' programme, aimed at helping cities to understand how they could best facilitate and benefit from automated transport systems.
The project highlighted several remaining challenges that will need to be addressed in future development of autonomous vehicle technology, including what levels of integration are necessary with road infrastructure, including traffic signals; minimising any issues related to time synchronisation between system components; and the need to correct for three-dimensional 'imperfections' on real road surfaces compared to two-dimensional mapping software (e.g. potholes, speed bumps.
In terms of connected technologies, during the project partners were able to test, develop and refine seven connected car features to the point that they could be successfully deployed in the two host cities of Milton Keynes and Coventry as part of the project's final demonstrations in October 2018.
The Emergency Vehicle Warning and Collaborative Parking features were judged to have worked particularly effectively, and could be seen as offering real-world benefits in the near future once sufficiently developed for use in production vehicles. The Electronic Emergency Brake Light feature was also considered as having strong potential to reduce road accidents.
In addition to leading the way in developing and showcasing the autonomous and connected technologies, UK Autodrive investigated other important aspects of automated driving – including safety and cyber-security, legal and insurance issues, public acceptance and customer interaction, and the potential business models for turning autonomous driving systems into a widespread reality.