A pioneering project to trial Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) has come to a grand conclusion, with three days of complex demonstrations across two cities – featuring new modes of travel, collaboration between three global car manufacturers, innovative technological features, complex urban environments, and an International CAV Conference.
The UK Autodrive project, involving several ITS (UK) members, is the largest of three projects to have emerged from the UK government’s ‘Introducing Driverless Cars’ competition in 2015, which had the aim of establishing the UK as a global hub for the development of autonomous vehicle technologies.
Since then the technology and CAV sector more generally has evolved considerably, and UK Autodrive has been the benchmark project. Putting users’ needs first, the project is helping to make roads safer and less congested, air cleaner, and commutes simpler and more efficient.
UK Autodrive has played a pivotal role in positioning the UK as a leader in the CAV space, helping support the UK government’s ambition to see driverless cars on the road by 2021, and making the UK a top destination for future investment and CAV research and development.
Jesse Norman, Future of Mobility Minister, said: “The move to automated cars, vans and trucks could bring huge benefits to people across the UK. And with the global market for CAV technologies expected to be worth over £900bn by 2035, it presents huge potential economic opportunities as well. The government is leading the way, with significant investment, and new regulations designed to balance innovation with safety. This country is in the early stages of an exciting and profound change. UK Autodrive is one of the organisations helping to put us at the forefront of that change.”
In addition to leading the way in developing and showcasing the latest technology, UK Autodrive has investigated other important aspects of automated driving – including safety and cyber-security, legal and insurance issues, public acceptance and customer interaction, and the potential business models for turning autonomous driving systems into a widespread reality.
Helping business, academic and government communities to take positive steps forward, the project has also delivered a number of papers and studies:
Public engagement / Feasibility studies: examining the significant implications and challenges of introducing autonomous vehicles from a technical, social and economic perspective.
Legal and insurance: supporting thinking and develop the legal framework for the wider roll-out of autonomous mobility.
“UK Autodrive has been a hugely successful project that was delivered on time and on budget” said Arup’s Tim Armitage, UK Autodrive Project Director. “Taking place in Milton Keynes, Coventry, and on the Horiba MIRA test track, UK Autodrive carried out a series of trials of increasing complexity which have demonstrated the functionality and potential of connected and self-driving cars. The programme also delivered a fleet of lightweight, autonomous ‘pods’ which have been designed to operate last-mile services in an urban environment. The pods have demonstrated how they could be used to provide a public transport service to residents of Milton Keynes. The real advances that the UK Autodrive partners have developed and which we have demonstrated will be shaping the next generation of vehicles, the roads, regulations and safeguards needed to accommodate them, and the people using them.”
The partners in the UK Autodrive consortium are Arup, Milton Keynes Council, Coventry City Council, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motor Company, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, RDM Group, HORIBA-MIRA, AXA, Gowling WLG, Thales, Transport Systems Catapult, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and the Open University.