Car manufacturers demonstrate connected and self-driving technology in UK Autodrive trials

Traffic lights against blue sky showing red signal

Three vehicle manufacturers joined forces on Friday to demonstrate a number of future vehicle technologies, including two connected car features aimed at improving safety, smoothing traffic flows and lowering vehicle emissions. 

The demonstration came at the end of the UK’s first collaborative trials of connected and autonomous vehicle technology by UK Autodrive partners Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Tata Motors European Technical Centre. 

There has already been a lot of public focus on self-driving vehicles, but connected car technology may be just as revolutionary.
— Arup's UK Autodrive project director Tim Armitage

The first demonstration showcased a connected vehicle warning system that can alert drivers when a car ahead brakes heavily.

The system lowers the risk of rear-end collisions when fog or other vehicles might normally obscure a driver’s view. 

In another demonstration, connected cars communicated with traffic lights to help them maintain the correct speed to avoid meeting red lights – a technology that may help to improve traffic flows and lower emissions in urban areas.

Tim Armitage, Arup’s UK Autodrive project director, said: “There has already been a lot of public focus on self-driving vehicles, but connected car technology may be just as revolutionary.

“The benefits of having cars that can communicate with each other and their surroundings could be very significant – from increased road safety to improved traffic flow, more efficient parking and better information for drivers.”

UK Autodrive video showing connected car and autonomous vehicle demonstrations

UK Roads Innovation Minister John Hayes said: “This technology has the potential to revolutionise travel by making journeys safer and cutting congestion for motorists. 

“I’m proud that the UK is a world leader when it comes to developing connected and automated vehicles.”

UK Autodrive is a consortium trialling self-driving vehicle and connected car technologies as part of the UK government’s efforts to support the introduction of driverless vehicles into the UK.

Launched in November 2015, the three-year project is carrying out trials of connected and autonomous cars, culminating in a series of open road trials in Milton Keynes and Coventry in 2018. 

The consortium will also examine some of the technical, social and economic implications of introducing self-driving vehicles to the roads.

Earlier this month, UK Autodrive launched its first survey of public attitudes towards self-driving vehicles. The survey aims to measure public sentiment towards autonomous vehicles and track any changes as the project progresses.