UK’s largest connected and self-driving vehicle project ready for real-world trials

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After successfully completing the final set of private test track demonstrations, the UK’s first collaborative trial of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology has been given the green light to move out onto city streets.

The Arup-led UK Autodrive consortium, which includes project partners Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Ford, and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC), met last week at the Horiba MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton to demonstrate a series of connected car and autonomous vehicle technologies that are now ready to be trialled on the roads of Milton Keynes and Coventry.

The first set of public road trials are due to take place by the end of this year, initially on segregated sections of roads, before evolving into open road trials and demonstrations as the project concludes in summer 2018.

A fleet of up to 40 self-driving pavement-based ‘pod’ vehicles will also be introduced in pedestrianized sections of central Milton Keynes as a separate part of the project.

UK Autodrive is the first project in the UK to showcase the benefits of having vehicles that can communicate with each other across multiple car brands.

Over two sets of trials the auto makers have jointly demonstrated connected car features that include:

• Warnings to drivers about other connected cars ahead braking heavily, which could lower the risk of rear-end collisions;

• Information from traffic lights advising drivers of the optimum speed to reduce the likelihood of meeting a red light, which improves traffic flow and reduces emissions;

• Warnings to drivers when an emergency vehicle is approaching, minimizing congestion and potentially reducing the time it takes for the emergency services to reach their destination;

• Warnings to drivers when other cars are detected at a junction and there is high probability of a collision;

• ‘In-Vehicle Signage’ where connected cars receive traffic information sent from road-side units, ensuring drivers do not miss important notifications such as changes of speed limit or temporary lane closures.

“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,” commented Tim Armitage Arup’s UK Autodrive project director.

“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.”

Click here to view a video about the UK Autodrive demonstrations. 

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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