A new 41-mile (66km) ‘living laboratory’ has been designed to create the most advanced environment for testing connected and autonomous vehicles on the UK’s roads.
The new CAV test corridor, which has received investment from Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and is part of the £5.5m ‘UK-CITE’ project, includes the use of public roads around Coventry and Solihull.
‘UK-CITE’ (UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment) is one of eight projects awarded funding last week as part of the Government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund. The projects will research and develop enhanced communication between vehicles and roadside infrastructure.
The three-year UK-CITE project will see new roadside communications equipment installed along the route to enable the testing of a fleet of up to 100 connected and highly automated cars, including five JLR research vehicles.
The fleet will test a range of different communication technologies that could share information at very high speeds between cars, and between cars and roadside infrastructure including traffic lights and overhead gantries.
Dr Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology at JLR, said: “This real-life laboratory will allow our research team and project partners to test new connected and autonomous vehicle technologies on five different types of roads and junctions.
“Similar research corridors already exist in other parts of Europe, so this test route is exactly the sort of innovation infrastructure the UK needs to compete globally.
“The connected and autonomous vehicle features we will be testing will improve road safety, enhance the driving experience, reduce the potential for traffic jams, and improve traffic flow.
“These technologies will also help us meet the increasing customer demand for connected services while on the move.”
JLR says that warning messages currently flashed onto an overhead gantry above a road could be sent direct to the dashboard, and repeated if necessary. This technology has the potential to eventually replace the overhead gantry, which each cost around £1m to install.
The JLR research team will also be real-world testing a range of ‘Over the Horizon’ warning systems. As well as warning drivers, these would inform future autonomous vehicles, helping them to react and respond automatically to hazards and changing traffic conditions.
Dr Wolfgang Epple added: “A well-informed driver is a safer driver, while an autonomous vehicle will need to receive information about the driving environment ahead.
“The benefits of smarter vehicles communicating with each other and their surroundings include a car sending a warning that it is braking heavily or stopping in a queue of traffic or around a bend. This will enable an autonomous car to take direct action and respond.
“Drivers would receive a visual and audible warning that another car is causing a hazard out of sight or over the horizon.”