The DRIVEN group has unveiled the first of the self-driving vehicles to be used in a two and a half year trial which will culminate in an end-to-end journey from London to Oxford.
Unveiled on Tuesday (5 September), the 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.
The first three models revealed are a 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium hybrid, a 2017 Ford Mondeo hybrid and a Range Rover Evoque. In total, six models will be used during the trial.
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.
According to the artificial intelligence company Oxbotica, which heads up the DRIVEN project, 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.
Graeme Smith, Oxbotica CEO, said: “We’re hugely excited to be unveiling the cars we’ll be using to run our autonomous driving trials in our special DRIVEN livery.
“While local residents around our Oxford office will have had a few sneak previews of our first vehicle, now everyone can see our Land Rover Evoque, Ford Mondeo and Ford Fusion as they will appear early next year in self-driving mode on public roads around Oxford and then along the Oxford to London corridor.”
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Testing the technology that enables autonomous driving is clearly an important part of the development process.
“High visibility branding of the test vehicles is a good thing, as they move from extensive off-road trials to streets where they’ll be mixing with everyday traffic, so that we know not to panic when we see one approaching with no-one holding the steering wheel.
“Possibly the most important thing about these trials is not the development of the technology as such but the building of our confidence in how it works, because that will be key to public acceptance of driverless vehicles both as road users and in time as potential passengers.”
Category: Autonomous vehicles.