The UK’s largest trial of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology has moved onto public roads, with the UK Autodrive project starting in-city trials on the streets of central Coventry.
Project partners Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Ford and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) have begun to collaboratively trial a number of connected car features in the city, with JLR and TMETC also separately trialing their autonomous vehicle (AV) research technologies. The connected car trials are exploring the benefits of having vehicles that can ‘talk’ to each other (V2V) and surrounding infrastructure (V2I), with connected traffic lights, emergency vehicle warnings, and emergency braking alerts among the services being trialed.
The JLR and TMETC AV research technology trials are being used to develop self-driving vehicle technology in a real-world setting, but with highly trained test operators supervising the cars at all times. Further trials are scheduled to take place in Coventry and Milton Keynes early next year, followed by a final series of open-road demonstration events in both cities during the second half of 2018.
As well as the on-road testing of CAVs in Milton Keynes and Coventry, UK Autodrive is also trialling a fleet of up to 40 self-driving pavement-based ‘pod’ vehicles in Milton Keynes, with both types of vehicle due to take part in the project’s final technology demonstrations next year.
“The fundamental purpose of UK Autodrive is to get connected and autonomous vehicle technology out onto UK roads, so the start of trialling on the streets of Coventry is clearly a major landmark both for the project and for the UK as a whole,” said Tim Armitage, Arup’s UK Autodrive project director.
“Our previous private test track trials showed that the technology works but it is only on real roads that we will start to see the scale of the benefits that it can bring to the general public.”
Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, Jim O’Boyle, said, “I’m really pleased that the UK’s first collaborative on-road trialling of autonomous and connected vehicles is taking place in Coventry; the birthplace of the motor car.
“This new technology is moving rapidly and this is an important step, and one we are all very excited about. Autonomous and connected cars will be a reality in the near future, and I am confident they will help to boost safety, reduce congestion, and improve air quality.”