Leading UK public and regulated services provider Amey, together with RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments), part of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, have secured funding from Innovate UK to build a prototype autonomous vehicle and test data collected from its sensors, which will ultimately transform current urban services and deliver safety benefits to the public.
The vehicle will be built as part of the Connected Autonomous Sensing Service Delivery Vehicles (CASS-DV) study and will undertake tasks currently completed manually, such as grass cutting and street cleaning. As it drives around autonomously, the vehicle will simultaneously provide real-time data from its sensors on the surrounding environment including: the condition of street furniture, bridges or the road surface. Other information that could be gathered from sensors includes environmental factors, such as air quality and vegetation growth.
If the 15-month CASS-DV study is successful, it could see autonomous vehicles delivering a whole range of urban maintenance activities across the UK, and will remove risk and improve the safety of public service workers completing tasks in high risk areas, as well as the general public.
The vehicles will be trialled at RACE’s site at the Culhum Science Center in Oxfordshire, which is set to become a major test and validation site for the vehicles. RACE’s knowledge and network of autonomous vehicle providers will form the basis for the development of the CASS-DV study. As part of a national laboratory, RACE is also able to contribute its strengths in engineering and software development through its and a center of excellence in robotics and autonomous systems (RAS). In its role as a public services provider, Amey will conduct the real-world trials of the vehicles.
Rick Robinson Amey’s director of technology, said, “We believe that the pioneering study will not only help to transform the quality and quantity of data on road conditions, but will provide cost efficiencies to our clients, as well as delivering real improvements in safety and service quality.”
Innovate UK’s chief executive, Ruth McKernan, commented, “These successful industry-led R&D projects will further spearhead UK development of low emission, and connected and autonomous vehicle technology, building on our world-leading research and innovation capability in this area, and the significant strength of UK businesses large and small in this field.”