UK’s most advanced self-driving vehicle trials get underway

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The StreetWise consortium has launched the UK’s most advanced demonstration of self-driving vehicles on mixed-use public roads, deploying advanced autonomous technology developed by project leader FiveAI.

Led by FiveAI, in partnership with insurance company Direct Line Group and the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), the first-of-its-kind project has started commuter research trials with invited participants, with testing taking place on public roads on a fixed route in two London boroughs, Croydon and Bromley, throughout October and November. StreetWise is a consortium initiative funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the governments’ Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and is part of a program managed by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV). The insights gathered through the StreetWise trials will contribute towards the development of safe, self-driving mobility services as an alternative to the urban commuter car.StreetWise FiveAI AV in Bromley

The StreetWise project is researching the technology, safety validation methods, insurance and service models required to deliver a viable, shared self-driving service, with the new trials aiming to gather insights into automated mobility from the pilot’s participants. Although the research trials are not open to the wider public, ultimately FiveAI believes self-driving services could offer citizens a safer, greener, more convenient and increasingly affordable alternative to the private car for urban commuting. The project’s partners have different roles in the pilot:

  • FiveAI has developed the reference software stack that will power all key aspects of the self-driving system. The stack was developed and trained using a data set from complex UK roads and cities, including London. Rigorous safety practices govern all of the on-road testing, where highly trained safety drivers sit behind the wheel at all times;
  • TRL is undertaking all participant research and analysis, assessing researching participants’ willingness to use and pay for a shared self-driving service as well as measuring their attitudes towards safety and trust. TRL is also establishing the safety case for the wider StreetWise project and generating an independent database of scenarios for simulation testing;
  • Direct Line Group is providing research participants for the trials, and as part of the broader StreetWise consortium, the company insures operations based on TRL’s safety case, and more broadly, is working to understand the conditions needed to insure software, rather than human, drivers.

“This is a significant milestone not only for the StreetWise consortium, but for the entire CAV sector in the UK and beyond,” said David Hynd, chief scientist at TRL. “Automated vehicles represent the future of transport and have the potential to deliver tangible, wide-reaching benefits in relation to reduced congestion, faster and cheaper commutes, fewer collisions and cleaner air. We’re very excited about entering this phase of the project to create credible and real-world insights on the willingness to use and attitudes towards a shared, automated service, which will go a long way to helping us understand how these services can meet the needs of end-users.”

Neil Ingram, Direct Line’s head of motor products, said, “As technological advances continue at pace and self-driving cars become a reality, insurers need to understand how that changes risk when cars are controlled by software rather than humans. The StreetWise project provides us with unique insight that will help to develop innovative insurance solutions for new tech-enabled mobility services.”StreetWise AV testing Croydon

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.

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