The UK Autodrive project has announced the start of connected and autonomous vehicle technology trials on the streets of Coventry.
The project’s partners – Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) – are collaborating to trial a number of connected car features in the city.
The connected car trials are focused on exploring the benefits of connected vehicle technology, which allows vehicles to communicate with each other and with surrounding infrastructure such as traffic lights.
“The start of trialling on the streets of Coventry is clearly a major landmark both for the project and for the UK as a whole”
By communicating electronically with other road users, vehicles can automatically alert the driver to a variety of situations, such as a car in front braking suddenly, or the need to make way for an approaching ambulance or police vehicle.
Tim Armitage, Arup’s UK Autodrive project director, said: “The fundamental purpose of UK Autodrive is to get connected and autonomous vehicle technology out onto UK roads, so the start of trialling on the streets of Coventry is clearly a major landmark both for the project and for the UK as a whole.
“Our previous private test track trials showed that the technology works but it is only on real roads that we will start to see the scale of the benefits that it can bring to the general public.”
Jaguar Land Rover and TMETC are also conducting separate trials of their autonomous vehicle research technologies, in order to develop self-driving vehicle technology in a real-world setting. Trained test operators will supervise the cars at all times.
“I’m really pleased that the UK’s first collaborative on-road trialling of autonomous and connected vehicles is taking place in Coventry – the birthplace of the motor car,” said Coventry City Councillor Jim O’Boyle.
“Autonomous and connected cars will be a reality in the near future and I am confident they will help to boost safety, reduce congestion and improve air quality. Along with battery technology they will also help to create thousands of new jobs in the automotive sector and its supply chain,” continued O’Boyle.
The project plans to conduct further trials in Coventry and Milton Keynes early next year, before a series of open road demonstration events later in 2018.
In addition to its on-road testing of connected and autonomous cars, UK Autodrive is also trialling a fleet of self-driving pavement-based ‘pod’ vehicles in Milton Keynes.