Autonomous and connected cars get set for UK road trials

Members of the UK Autodrive consortium have been demonstrating connected and autonomous vehicle technologies prior to road trials in Coventry and Milton Keynes.

Project partners Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) assembled at the HORIBA MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton today, June 22, 2017, to demonstrate a series of car technologies that have been successfully demonstrated in test track trials. Jaguar Land Rover also presented the latest version of their autonomous vehicle technology.

The three vehicle manufacturers are participants in the £20m UK Autodrive research and development project, which is jointly funded by government and industry.

UK Autodrive is the first British project to showcase the benefits of inter-car communication. During the event, the car-makers jointly demonstrated three of the seven connected car features that are being trialled during the three-year programme.

First was Emergency Vehicle Warning, which showcased cars that warn drivers when an emergency vehicle is approaching – as well as indicating its direction – thereby minimising congestion and potentially reducing the time it takes for emergency service vehicles to reach their destination.

During the second demonstration (Intersection Collision Warning), the connected cars were able to detect the presence of other connected cars on approach to a junction, and warn whenever there was a high probability of a collision.

The third demonstration involved ‘In-Vehicle Signage’, which provides connected cars with traffic information sent from road-side units.

“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,” said Tim Armitage, Arup’s UK Autodrive project director.

Jaguar Land Rover used the event to demonstrate Autonomous Urban Drive in a Range Rover Sport, which gives the vehicle the capability to navigate its way around an urban-style road network, successfully negotiating roundabouts and junctions while also steering around obstacles.

The first set of public road trials are due to take place in Milton Keynes and Coventry by the end of this year, initially on segregated sections of roads, before evolving into open road trials and demonstrations as the project draws to a close in summer 2018. A fleet of up to 40 self-driving pavement-based ‘pod’ vehicles will also be introduced in pedestrianised sections of central Milton Keynes as a separate part of the project.

Connected car features being trialled within the UK Autodrive programme:

Emergency Vehicle Warning (EVW) – Sends a signal directly from the emergency vehicle (e.g. ambulance, fire engine, police vehicle) to nearby connected cars. Driver is informed that the emergency vehicle is approaching and advised to make way for it.

Intersection Collision Warning (ICW) – Warns the driver when it is unsafe to enter an intersection, due to a high probability of collision with other vehicles.

In-Vehicle Signage (IVS) – Sends information about road conditions, congestion or other incidents directly to the in-car display, rather than having to rely on expensive gantry systems.

Electronic Emergency Brake Light (EEBL) – Alerts the driver when a vehicle in front suddenly brakes, providing advanced warning, especially when the driver is unable to see the lights of the braking vehicle due to weather conditions, road layout or other vehicles in between.

Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory (GLOSA) – Sends traffic light information to the connected car which is able to calculate the optimal speed for approaching the lights, potentially minimising the number of red light stops, improving traffic flow and reducing emission levels from idling vehicles.

Intersection Priority Management (IPM) – Assigns priority when two or more connected vehicles come to an intersection without priority signs or traffic lights.

Collaborative Parking – Provides real-time information about free parking spaces either in the vicinity or close to the driver’s final destination.