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Driverless Car investment gets the go-ahead

By raccars Published

The development of autonomous car technology has been underway for quite some time now - a bit of research will highlight companies such as Google and Tesla, who are striving to bring driverless vehicles to a mainstream audience.

Despite the amount of work going into autonomous technology, however, it is still very much in its early stages, evidenced by minor collisions for both companies during city-based testing. Perhaps realising the potential for autonomous cars both overseas and in home territory, the UK government has awarded a number of research and development projects £20 million, each of which are designed to further both the applications and infrastructure of autonomous mobility.

UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment

Costing over £5 million, the Intelligent Transport Environment will explore the benefits of ‘talking car’ technology, using over 40 miles of Coventry roads to test out how cars interact with each other and the environment around them - the expected result is a vast improvement to journey times, congestion and road safety. Talking car technology, however, expands past autonomous driving – imagine going to pull out of a junction in low-visibility conditions and your car warns you beforehand of another vehicle approaching?

Greenwich Automated Transport Environment Project (Gateway)

Although their design hasn’t been revealed yet, the Greenwich gateway pods are said to be an adaptation of the passenger shuttles in use at Heathrow airport. If you’ve ever been there, chances are you’ll be familiar with them - these small passenger cabins will pick up civilians and transport them around the most visited spots in the area. The pods will circle a variety of routes, including North Greenwich station, the O2 arena and surrounding residential areas, initially running a three-month invite-only cycle, before inviting the public for a ride.

Flourish

The Flourish initiative is based in Bristol, and is designed to work out what consumers require of autonomous vehicles and how best to meet their needs, with testing in both urban and suburban environments. As well as considering safety and efficiency, Flourish is likely to consider the more leisurely side of autonomous travel. Watching your favourite show or listening to music would be cool, but how well will it work will depend on how much driver participation is needed.

Tools for Autonomous Logistics Operations and Management

Your favourite videogame vehicle might make an appearance sometime soon – well, maybe not quite, but you could be driving no-handed in something very quirky in the near future. In an unusual collaborative effort, the Tools project will combine the expertise of transportation modelling and the video game industry to develop exciting new designs for autonomous fleets, as well as improving return on investment on vehicles created. In particular, the project will use a cloud-based operating system to visualise huge, detailed simulations of designs in real-time.

Other Projects

Projects such as Move-UK are designed to speed up the creation of autonomous driving systems, with a secondary focus on making them as ready as possible for market in as short a time as possible. Meanwhile, Innovative Testing of Autonomous Control Techniques (Abbreviated as INTACT) aims to reduce the cost of testing and evaluating autonomous control systems, with a further focus on safe and controlled replications.

The Pathway to Autonomous Commercial Vehicles has a focus on developing technologies to monitor vehicle data, using a range of analytics to predict safety risks. With a constant network connection, Pathway technology tracks tyre pressure, temperature and more, whilst the i-Motors project is primarily designed to track sensory data in real-time, simulataneously analysing multiple sources using the power of cloud computing. And based in the Midlands, Insight is a £3.7 million combined project focused on improving mobility for disabled and visually impaired people, making use of advanced sensors and control systems to navigate pedestrian areas.

So what does this mean?

With such innovation being put into action, it is hoped that these projects will pave the way for the deployment of inter-connected autonomous vehicles around the UK and in other parts of the world, whilst also establishing the UK as a global centre of excellence in this field. Within just a few years, some - or even all - of the above technology could become commonplace on our roads.

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