UK Autodrive consortium on its way to real-world testing

07 August 2017 3 min. read
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Autonomous cars are set to transform the automotive industry and wider society in the coming decades, creating disruption in various sectors. To secure the UK’s place in the development space, engineering consultancy Arup and a variety of stakeholders are trialling various technologies, with many of the technologies to be real-road tested in Milton Keynes and Coventry later in 2017.

Connected and automotive vehicles are projected to create various benefits to the UK and global economy over the coming decades as the technology advances. While considerable upheaval in various sectors is expected, from truckers to the insurance industry, the move is set to reduce accidents, increase vehicle efficiencies and reduce various costs. Projections about when the technology will become mainstream vary.

One of the organisations supporting the development of connected and autonomous vehicles in the UK is the UK Autodrive consortium. The group of technology and automotive businesses, local authorities and academic institutions, have now spent two of a three-year project working on a three-year project on advancing self-driving car technology across the UK. The project aims to help the UK become a global hub in the driverless car development, as well as raising public awareness of the technology and bringing to light conditions for the technology across the country’s cities.

Arup begins final testing before on-road autonomous vehicle testing in the UK

Engineering consultancy firm Arup has been leading the UK Autodrive consortium since winning a £10 million government contract in 2014. The consulting firm has been working with a wide range of project partners, including Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Tata Motors European Technical Centre, as the group prepare for a final series of track runs, at the HORIBA MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton. The technology developed between the partners has been deemed ready for real-world testing in trials on the roads of Milton Keynes and Coventry. The tests will, initially, remain segregated from normal traffic, before, assuming the technology passes muster, real-road tests in the summer of 2018.

The technology involved in the new vehicles includes a cross brand standard for communications, which allows autonomous vehicles and connected cars more broadly, to communicate with each other, by, among others, warning drivers about heavy breaking ahead; optimising driver speed for red light flows; warning drivers about emergency vehicles; junction collision detection; and in-vehicle signage related to changes in conditions compared to map-based information.

Commenting on the successes so far, Tim Armitage Arup’s UK Autodrive Project Director, said, “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. 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.”