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UK Autodrive project completes test track trials

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The UK’s largest collaborative trial of connected and autonomous vehicle technology is now set to move out onto city streets after successfully completing its final private test track demonstrations this morning.

Members of the UK Autodrive consortium came together at HORIBA MIRA in Nuneaton to demonstrate a series of technologies that are ready to be tested on the roads of Milton Keynes and Coventry.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Ford and Tata Motors European Technical Centre took part in the demonstration which included the latest version of JLR’s autonomous vehicle technology as well as various connected car systems.

“The successful completion of the proving ground trials marks a significant milestone for the project team, and we are now looking forward to demonstrating the benefits of these exciting new technologies in the real world settings of Milton Keynes and Coventry,” said Arup’s UK Autodrive project director Tim Armitage.

“Once the technology becomes widely available, we anticipate huge potential benefits in terms of road safety, improved traffic flow and general access to transport, so we’re really excited about being able to demonstrate this on real roads.

The first demonstration showcased an Emergency Vehicle Warning system which warns drivers when an emergency vehicle is approaching, as well as indicating its direction. This aims to minimise congestion and potentially reducing the time it takes for ambulances, police cars and fire engines to reach their destination.

During the second demonstration the cars were able to detect the presence of other connected vehicles on approach to a junction, and warn whenever there was a high probability of a collision, using a system known as Intersection Collision Warning.

The third demonstration involved ‘In-Vehicle Signage’ whereby connected cars can receive traffic information sent from road side units, ensuring that drivers do not miss out on notifications, such as changes of speed limit or temporary lane closures.

Jaguar Land Rover also used Thursday’s event to demonstrate its Autonomous Urban Drive technology. An automated Range Rover Sport fitted with the prototype technology was able to traverse an urban style road network, successfully negotiating roundabouts and junctions while also steering around obstacles.

The first set of public road trials are due to take place in Milton Keynes and Coventry by the end of this year, initially on segregated sections of road before evolving into open road trials as the project draws to a close next summer.

A fleet of up to 40 self driving pavement based ‘pod’ vehicles will also be introduced in pedestrianised sections of central Milton Keynes as a separate part of the project.