TRL says driverless cars take a step forward by showing how they can operate safely in London
The DRIVEN consortium, involving ITS (UK) Executive Members TRL and Transport for London has celebrated a key milestone in this 30-month government-supported project by demonstrating the capabilities of a fleet of self-driving vehicles in London’s challenging and complex urban environment.
The jointly-funded £13.6m programme, which is the most ambitious of its kind, gave a week-long demonstration around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford—establishing the UK’s world-leading autonomous vehicle (AV) technology in challenging every-day conditions. The DRIVEN programme – powered by Oxbotica’s autonomous software – confirms that autonomous vehicles can operate smoothly, safely and legally in complex real-life situations, with a safety driver present, on typical public roads in Europe’s biggest mega-city.
DRIVEN has taken a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges facing self-driving vehicles in the cities of London and Oxford, going beyond the technical obstacles and examining the entire autonomous vehicle ‘ecosystem’. It combines a wide range of technical experts in areas such as local authority planning, insurance, cyber-security and data trading. The coalition of experts include Oxbotica, Oxford Robotics Institute, Axa XL, Nominet, Telefonica, TRL, RACE, Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) and Transport for London (TfL). The project is adhering fully to the Department for Transport’s Code of Practice and Transport for London’s (TfL) recently published London-specific guidance for Connected and Autonomous Trials.
Minister of State at the Department for Transport, George Freeman MP, said: “Self-driving technology has the scope to revolutionise the way people travel, with potentially profound benefits for road safety, accessibility and convenience. We want to drive the roll-out of self-driving vehicles and continue to support innovators developing this ground-breaking technology. The success of trials like project DRIVEN underpin our Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy, highlighting our ongoing support for innovation, research and the trialling of exciting new technology which cements our position as a global leader in this space.”
Speaking on the significance of the event, DRIVEN Programme Director and Oxbotica Senior Vice President, External Affairs, Dr Graeme Smith said: “The completion of the DRIVEN project marks a significant milestone for the future of autonomous vehicles in the UK. Establishing Britain as a world leader for innovative technologies has been at the heart of our mission and we’re incredibly proud of the steps we have taken to help make AVs a reality on our roads.”
From Nominet and Axa XL’s collaboration developing situational risk management capabilities, to ORI’s data trading algorithms and O2’s role in ensuring safe and secure communications, DRIVEN has proved invaluable in fostering meaningful technological developments in the autonomous vehicle space. Similarly, OCC, TfL, RACE and TRL’s work has contributed to safe trials across a range of locations, helping cement the UK as a global testbed for innovation.
The £13.6m DRIVEN initiative – with matched funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and industry – has sought to address fundamental real-world challenges facing self-driving vehicles. It has focused on completing fully autonomous routes within the dense complex urban environments of London and Oxford, showing Oxbotica’s UK-developed technology’s competitive advantage in such environments.
The prototype vehicles have succeeded driving in complex urban environments without the need for human input, exceeding the initial plan in terms of complexity and achievement. This means that fully autonomous vehicles have made an important step forward towards everyday operation on our roads.