Technology that could radically reduce the number of multi car collisions on motorways is set to be developed and trialled in the UK after the Government awarded funding towards the initiative this week.
The Multi-Car Collision Avoidance (MuCCA) project will be undertaken by a consortium of organisations which is led by automotive design and testing firm Applus IDIADA.
It will use artificial intelligence and vehicle to vehicle communications to help connected cars and eventually autonomous vehicles to make cooperative decisions and avoid potential accidents.
The trial will also require the MuCCA system equipped vehicles to predict the likely movements of cars controlled by human drivers using AI methods. If the MuCCA controlled vehicles cannot avoid an accident altogether, the aim will be to minimise the consequences.
In addition the project will develop data logging capabilities to create a record of the exact causes of accidents. A computer simulated environment will also be created in which the vehicles’ AI systems can practice complex crash scenarios before being trialled on real world test tracks.
The project consortium also includes Cranfield University, Westfield Sports Cars, Cosworth, Secured by Design and the Transport Systems Catapult. Government funding for the initiative comes following a competition from Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.
IDIADA chief engineer Charlie Wartnaby said: “The beauty of connected vehicles is that they can share and combine sensor data with other vehicles, making them more than the sum of their parts.
“We can use this ability to allow machine logic to take control of a group of vehicles such that they work together in an emergency to avoid an accident, deciding optimal joint trajectories to avoid complex collisions with both human and machine driven vehicles in a way that human drivers could not.
“Even a single MuCCA vehicle will have superlative collision avoidance capability using its 360 degree prediction of human driven vehicles around it.” Currently around 5500 accidents happen each year on UK motorways.