A new government-backed project has unveiled plans to test driverless cars on UK roads and motorways by 2019.
The DRIVEN group, which benefits from an £8.6m Innovate UK grant, aims to deploy a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles in urban areas and on motorways over the next 30 months, culminating in an end-to-end journey from London to Oxford.
These vehicles will operate at ‘Level 4 autonomy’ – meaning they have the capability of performing all safety-critical driving functions and monitoring roadway conditions for an entire trip, with zero-passenger occupancy. All vehicles involved in the trial will, however, have a human on board.
The DRIVEN group, led by artificial intelligence company Oxbotica, says this is the first time a connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) trial of this level of complexity and integration has been attempted anywhere in the world.
Getting underway this month, the project will ‘shake-up the transportation and insurance industries by seeking to remove fundamental barriers to real-world commercial deployment of autonomous vehicles’.
The project team will look to address the challenges of communication and data sharing between connected vehicles, CAV insurance modelling, and risk profiling.
They will also address data protection and cyber-security concerns raised by international policymakers and law enforcement agencies by defining common security and privacy policies related to connected and autonomous vehicles.
Other partners involved in the UK project include the Oxford Robotics Institute, Telefonica O2 UK, the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), Oxfordshire County Council and Transport for London (TfL).
Dr Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, said: “No company, group or consortium of autonomy experts has ever attempted what DRIVEN is planning over the next 30-months.
“We are seeking to address some of the most fundamental challenges preventing the future commercial deployment of fully autonomous vehicles. I have full confidence in DRIVEN’s world-leading and internationally respected team of specialists to deliver this project.”
Professor Paul Newman, head of the Oxford Robotics Institute, said: “DRIVEN is the first of its kind and brings a host of new questions surrounding the way these vehicles will communicate with each other.
“We’re moving from the singleton autonomous vehicle, to fleets of autonomous vehicles – and what’s interesting to us is what data the vehicles share with one another, when, and why.”