New DRIVEN driverless cars shown off for first time in Oxfordshire
Work being done in Oxfordshire today could revolutionise people’s lives and give the UK a share in an industry that could be worth billions in the years ahead.
Vehicles that ‘talk’ to each other to get around more efficiently have been demonstrated publicly for the first time in Oxfordshire by the Oxbotica-led DRIVEN consortium*.
The project tackles challenging questions for fleets of autonomous vehicles such as traffic management, atmospheric conditions and vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.
The successful demonstration is seen as another milestone passed in the journey towards not just driverless vehicles but truly intelligent transport.
Two cars – a Ford Fusion Titanium and a Ford Mondeo – took to roads at the Culham Science Centre to show how Light and Detection Ranging (LIDAR) sensors, on board computers, and cameras, as well as Oxford-based Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy and Caesium fleet tracking software makes it possible for them to autonomously navigate round pedestrians, cyclists and other traffic.
Working towards Oxford to London trials
Oxfordshire County Council hosts the first dedicated local authority Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Team in the UK and has been supporting the work of the DRIVEN consortium – a world-leading team of organisations working together to deliver the technology needed to revolutionise how vehicles get around – since the outset and has been instrumental in making ongoing on-road trials a success.
Even with the technology in place the county council, along with Transport for London, has a pivotal role as the highway authority and its support means that plans for DRIVEN to undertake ‘Level 4’ autonomous journeys between London and Oxford in 2019. Level 4 autonomy a vehicle has the capability of driving itself most of the time without any human input.
A UK first for Oxfordshire
Llewellyn Morgan, Oxfordshire County Council’s Innovation and Research manager, said: “Oxfordshire was the first council in the UK to consider autonomous vehicles in its transport policy and has been a supporter of the development and application of this technology since it’s infancy in the UK.
“We have possibly the highest concentration of AV related companies in the UK right here in Oxfordshire and it was fantastic to be able to see the cars in action.”
DRIVEN project director and Oxbotica CEO Dr Graeme Smith said: “This is a significant landmark in the development of vehicle autonomy, which has always been about more than simply self-driving.
“This public trial demonstrates that our technology is able to share data and information that vehicles are then able to use to plot more effective routes, avoid potential hazards, and anticipate conditions more effectively.
“This will have huge implications on the way autonomous vehicles will operate and how the future of road travel in the UK looks, improving safety, efficiency and productivity.”
Prof. Paul Newman, co-founder of DRIVEN and Director of the Oxford Robotics Institute said: “Once again the UK is at the forefront of the next generation of travel, and our expertise is second-to-none at a time when the country is looking to develop global trading links.
“We hope and expect that the technology that DRIVEN is developing will be adopted by vehicle manufacturers all over the world as the first wave of autonomous vehicles, as the public imagines them, comes to market.
“Our work on display here today could revolutionise people’s lives, and the UK will get to share in an industry that could be worth billions in the years ahead.”
DRIVEN is a consortium of British companies, led by Oxbotica, and enabled by the UK Government.
DRIVEN is jointly funded by government and industry, having been in receipt of an £8.6m grant from the government as part of its £390m Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. This fund is administered by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and delivered by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.
*DRIVEN’s partners are: Oxbotica; Oxford Robotics Institute; XL Catlin, the global re/insurer; Nominet; Telefonica O2 UK; TRL; the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s RACE business unit; Oxfordshire County Council; Westbourne Communications and Transport for London.