An £11 million research programme has been launched to help further the development of fully autonomous cars capable of operating safely on the UK’s roads.
The research, jointly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)* and Jaguar Land Rover, will take place at 10 UK universities and the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).
As part of its strategic partnership with Jaguar Land Rover, EPSRC issued a joint call for research proposals that focussed on developing fully autonomous cars: Towards Autonomy – Smart and Connected Control (TASCC).
The research, which will examine key technologies and questions that need to be addressed before driverless cars can be allowed on the roads without a safety risk, has been awarded to five different projects.
A team led by Birmingham and Edinburgh universities will focus on the development of new radar sensors and advanced video analysis that would allow cars to better identify obstacles and hazards on the road.
Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton will study drivers’ reactions to autonomous vehicles, with the aim of designing the best driver-vehicle interaction.
University College London engineers and researchers from Cranfield University will look into the effects of automated driving on drivers’ attention and cognition and any possible negative impact on driving.
Researchers from the University of Warwick will focus on the development of a self-learning car that will minimise distractions, enhance safety and deliver a personalised driving experience.
TRL will work alongside the University of Surrey, Warwick University and Imperial College London on a project to understand how distributed control systems and cloud computing can be integrated with vehicles.
Dr Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “To realise the future potential for fully autonomous vehicles, we need to give drivers, pedestrians and other road users the confidence that a car driving around with little or no human input is a safe, viable and rewarding experience.
“These collaborative projects will bring some of the UK’s leading academics together with our autonomous driving team to address the fundamental real-world challenges that are part of our journey towards autonomous driving.”
Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s chief executive, said: “Science and engineering research is vital to technological innovation and to keeping UK businesses at the forefront of global markets. This joint investment shows how strategic partnerships between the research councils, universities and business can identify industry’s challenges and build the academic expertise needed to meet them.”
As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, EPSRC’s vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to ‘Research, Discover and Innovate’. By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, EPSRC is building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Its portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research it funds has impact across all sectors.