Business Secretary Sajid Javid announced back in February the eight consortia were selected to research and develop proposals to help develop infrastructure for connected and autonomous vehicles, each having successfully bid for the 2015 Connected and Autonomous Vehicles competition.
These R&D projects are described in detail in our article CAV competition leverages over £25 million for eight R&D projects to help build infrastructure for connected and autonomous vehicles.
Retrospectively known as CAV1 — in light of a second competition in the offing — this round of funding from the government’s £100 million Intelligent Mobility Fund also offered support for technical feasibility projects, to study ways to enhance communication between vehicles and roadside infrastructure or urban information systems.
Outline details of these projects, most now underway, were recently released by Innovate UK and publicised by some of those involved. Among subjects being investigated include studies of the effects of autonomous vehicles on infrastructure, new business models, reduced cost sensors, autonomous vehicle accidents investigation methods, urban planning for autonomous vehicles and even a study of potential for a autonomous motorcycle.
The fourteen supported feasibility projects
Driver experience based learning system for autonomous cars
While not yet underway, the Driver experience based learning system for autonomous cars project is to be led by The Floow Limited, with together with The University of Sheffield and Tata Motors European Technical Centre PLC.
The Floow is an University of Sheffield spin-out company, specialising in telematics such as for the insurance industry, with expertise in computer science, analytics, statistical analysis of Big Data, driver psychology and actuarial science.
The Floow is also a participant in the CAV1 MOVE UK consortium funded with £5.5m to trial driverless cars on UK roads. In this project The Floow’s telematics is to be used to compare the behaviour of the vehicle to that of a human driver in the same real world environment.
Led by Euratom/CCFE, the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, the nine month £190,067 supported PAVE: People in Autonomous Vehicles in Urban Environments: Culham City project will study the potential impact of driverless vehicles on UK infrastructure.
Culham City, based at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, is to be used as a test site to study how smart technologies can enable the safe and controlled testing of autonomous vehicles.
According to fellow participant Amey (the utilities and waste management provider) there’s growing need to fully understand the implications of this revolutionary technology.
Amey will be running a series of workshops and other events, gathering views from councillors from local authorities, travel planners, emergency services, industry experts and policy makers with a view to understanding perceptions of the benefits and challenges posed by this new form of transport.
The findings of this research project could inform future government policies and decisions related to driverless cars. The consortium is due to publish its final report by 2017.
Amey’s IT Director of Smart Data and Technology Dr Rick Robinson said: “The UK has the highest (number of) internet search requests on driverless cars anywhere in the world, however recent studies suggest that while people think that driverless car technology potentially offers enormous economic and societal benefits, there are concerns, particularly about safety. While these vehicles remain in development phase, now is an important time to explore the views of people who understand the wider implications of the technology.”
“We are keen to learn what autonomous vehicles mean for transport infrastructure and how we can design the transport network of tomorrow. We see this project as an exciting opportunity to work as part of a consortium whose focus is not necessarily the technology itself but rather the stakeholder and infrastructure environment in which autonomous vehicles will operate.”
Traffic systems company Siemens (with £4775 of support at 50% of costs) is also participating in the study. Siemens is also one of ten consortia members of the UK CITE R&D project that aims to enable automotive, infrastructure and service companies to trial connected vehicle technologies in real-life conditions on 40 miles of roads within Coventry and Warwickshire, using combinations of DSRC and LTE talking car technologies to compare their performance, starting from next year.
Other participants are Westbourne Comms Company (supported by £41,522, 70% of costs) - A London based advocacy, reputational support and public engagement company, and Oxbotica Ltd, a spin-out from Oxford University’s Mobile Robotics Group.
Oxbotica’s technology has been used in the Oxford RobotCar — the UK’s first autonomous car approved for public trials — also used in the LUTZ project, bringing autonomous pods to the pavements of Milton Keynes.
Oxbotica, as well as also studying the feasibility of 3D dense vision (below), is also part of the Greenwich Gateway project.
Thingful Limited has begun a project that’s assessing the feasibility of real-time vehicle data sharing within a decentralised system of data producers and consumers, making use of data from embedded automotive connectivity modules.
The Thingful.net site offers a search engine for the Internet of Things, providing a geographical index of connected objects around the world, including energy, radiation, weather, and air quality devices as well as seismographs, iBeacons, ships, aircraft and even animal trackers.
Thingful.net was created by Umbrellium,a London based designer and developer of technological tools to support citizen empowerment and high-impact engagement in cities.
It plans to demonstrate a system for making vehicle data accessible to a variety of third parties through an IoT system that mediates access via a decentralised and trustless transaction management system, with drivers’ explicit consent and incentivisation.
As stated in the Connected Car Data project abstract, the potential of connectivity and increasing level of sensor-based automation in vehicles isn’t currently harnessed due to a lack of a clear value and business proposition for automotive OEMs. The project aims to demonstrate that a sensor data service for automotive aftermarket channels, app developers and other parties (that are affected by or have a direct interest in the automotive value chain) can accelerate value creation in the industry and show how a technology like Thingful enables and supports it.
Thankful have been supported with £168,079, 70% of the project budget, for this year long project.
A feasibility study into the use of radar technology for environment mapping on autonomous vehicles
Navtech Radar Ltd - a designer and manufacturer of commercially deployed radar solutions - has been selected to conduct a feasibility study into the use of radar technology for environment mapping on autonomous vehicles.
Navtech Radar states that its technology is used by clients in the Perimeter Security Surveillance, Industrial Automation and Traffic Incident Detection sectors.
Its solutions are designed, manufactured and supported from its factory in Oxfordshire, although the company was originally set up in 1999 as a spin-off of a Sydney University project using radar for precisely locating stationary and moving objects for driverless vehicles in ports.
Machines With Vision Limited has been awarded 70% of total project costs (£122,288) for the feasibility study of Pinpoint: a Simple, low-cost, compact and precise localisation for highly autonomous vehicles.
Based in Edinburgh, the company is developing a novel sensor for automonous vehicle localisation, that it claims ‘will revolutionize the ease with which complex Computer Vision algorithms can be used in a wide range of embedded applications’.
According its proposal abstract, highly automomous vehicles need to know their location relative to the road but GPS is not sufficiently accurate. Autonomous vehicles being developed and tested today use rich 3D maps of the environment to determine the vehicle position to within a centimetre or so but the technology is expensive, bulky and power hungry.
Machines With Vision says its proposed method for determining vehicle location using a novel 3D imaging sensor is not only cheaper, more compact and more efficient but should also determine position to millimetre accuracy.
For the project, it will build a prototype of the sensor, demonstrate the ability to localise a vehicle and develop the commercial value proposition and ‘route to market’.
Roke Manor Research Limited has been awarded 50% of its project costs (£17,273) for a three month study into Road Accident 3D Reconstruction.
Roke Manor Research takes its name from the 19th century Manor House near Romsey, Hampshire, housing what was formerly known as Plessey Research Roke Manor. It now is wholly owned by defence company Chemring Group PLC, and works in the Applied Analysis, Big Data, Comms Infrastructure, Cyber Security, Electromagnetic Intelligence, Intelligent Sensors, and Network Test & Evaluation sectors.
Chemring Technology Solutions is a research partner with the University of Surrey's 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), set up to spearhead international research into 5G technologies for the next generation of mobile networks.
Chemring is also a project partner in the UK Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology, led by the University of Birmingham, bringing together expertise in physics and engineering from the Universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Nottingham, Southampton, Strathclyde and Sussex with over 70 industry partners.
According to the proposal abstract, the project will study issues of responsible for road accident involving driverless cars. It will cover the feasibility of producing a highly precise 3D reconstructions of vehicle trajectories in accidents: in the build-up to a road accident and the accident itself, making use of advanced event data recorders, such as dashcams.
Oxbotica Ltd has been 70% funded (£173,664) for the year long Enabling Affordable Autonomy Using Hybrid Dense Vision project that aims to improve the affordability of autonomous vehicles by reducing sensor costs.
The Feasibility Study will use 3D dense vision technologies in a road-going prototype and assess the performance of this alternative to laser localisation over many thousands of miles of testing.
According to the proposal abstract, the outcome will be an analysis of the performance of a new Hybrid Dense Vision approach - leading to a reference design for a lower cost sensor system for autonomous vehicles that could reduce existing sensors costs for autonomous systems by over an order of magnitude.
The 12 month, £210,390 supported, OVARE project aims to demonstrate a concept for optimising the driving style of autonomous vehicles (AVs) for passenger ride comfort, vehicle emissions and fuel consumption, as well as journey times.
The project will evaluate the impacts of customers interacting with AVs to specify a driving style to suit their requirements on AV fuel consumption and emissions.
New measurements of ride comfort and emissions will be used to develop models that can be used in further simulations of passenger-AV interactions.
The project is a collaboration between Emissions Analytics Limited (£86,866 at 70% costs) and the Centre for
Transport Studies, Imperial College London (£123,524 at 100% of costs).
The project combines access to at least 20 different vehicles for testing, with expertise in vehicle emissions measurement, innovation in sensor development and expertise in the simulation of autonomous vehicles.
As part of this project, a ride comfort sensor will be developed to independently measure vibrations so that standard ride comfort metrics can be calculated. The ride quality sensor developed in this project will also be used to detect road degradation for highways maintenance.
Connect Plus Services (a construction, design, maintenance and operations joint venture between Balfour Beatty, Atkins and Egis Road Operation UK), together with INRIX UK Ltd (the global Connected Car Services and Movement Analytics provider) have jointly proposed the V2 gritter project.
Connect Plus Services has a 30-year contract to maintain and operate the M25 motorway network, including all adjoining trunk and slip roads.
A consortium of three companies led by Autord Ltd (£96,120 at 70% of costs) has started the Autonomous Motorcycle Platform Feasibility project to study and demonstrate the technical feasibility of an autonomous motorcycle platform.
Total funded value of the year long project that started in May 2016 is £180,207.
Other consortium members are Empire Racing Cars Ltd (£30,074 at 70%) and Imperial College London (£54,013 at 100%).
AVL Powertrain UK Limited has started its VEDAS project with support of £124,087 (50% of costs) for a year long project developing a virtual validation environment for ADAS and autonomous vehicles.
Time to market is of the essence to develop for rapidly developing growing technologies such as ADAS, according to the project proposal abstract, resulting in virtualised testing offers significant benefits.
This feasibility project will develop processes and methodologies to support a virtual validation environment for ADAS and autonomous vehicles. AVL Powertrain states that such an environment will allow faster, more controllable and adaptable validation.
The Atlas project, led by Ordnance Survey Limited is being supported with £174,606 funding to study the navigation, mapping, data, communications and processing requirements of autonomous vehicles.
The six consortium partners collaborating on this project are:
The Atlas Project has begun its study of the feasibility and requirements for technologies and services to deliver autonomous navigation ‘anywhere’ in a safe, reliable and resilient manner.
Specifically, the project will study navigation, mapping, data, communications and processing requirements; identifying on-vehicle and infrastructure elements required to support autonomous navigation.
The project is also considering how data can be reused for the planning of urban environments more suited to autonomy.
According to TRL, the ‘Atlas’ initiative will study data critical to the efficient operation of autonomous vehicles and how it can be enhanced.
In its announcement of the awarding of funding for the project TRL said that testing the feasibility of maintaining, processing and distributing this data is a core element of the project. If Atlas is successful, it foresees further rapid take-up of connected and autonomous vehicles.
The Atlas project commenced on 1 May 2016 and is one of many projects using TRL's UK Smart Mobility Living Lab @ Greenwich; a real-life environment where Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs), services and processes can be safely developed, evaluated and integrated within the local community.
Commenting on the announcement, Rob Wallis, CEO at TRL said; “Atlas is the latest in a string of innovative projects to be making use of TRL’s UK Smart Mobility Lab at Greenwich. It is an important project for autonomous vehicle development because the success of this work will not only enable safe navigation of these vehicles, but help to transform our transport system and ultimately save lives. If we can understand how to safely and securely transfer data between vehicles, then we really can put the UK at the forefront of connected and automated mobility.”
Jeremy Morley, Ordnance Survey’s Chief Geospatial Scientist, stressed the strength of the consortium and the potential benefits from the Atlas project: “Autonomous vehicles will need to find their way reliably and safely through a vast network of streets while interacting with driven and other autonomous vehicles. Imagine sections of road – other than motorway – equipped with beacons using the potential of 5G technology and geospatial accuracy to sense ‘unexpected objects’ (a.k.a ‘children and animals’), that may unwittingly stray into the path of an oncoming autonomous vehicle.”
“Engines in autonomous cars that pick up on road surface conditions perhaps, to adjust a car’s tyre pressures. We’re already seeing developments along these lines as collaborations take place between other mapping organisations and a range of car manufacturers – BMW, AUDI, et al.”
Ben Davis (left) , Technical Director of Gobotix, said: “We have been working for some time alongside OxTS to use our joint expertise in robotics, navigation and computer vision in order to improve and build upon vehicle autonomy in a range of environments. This exciting opportunity enables us, through close collaboration with industry-leading companies, to explore further some of the ideas from our brightest and best minds.”
Myrtle Software has received 70% funding (£147,148) to conduct the Efficient Computer Vision ADAS Hardware for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles project. Myrtle Software, based in Cambridge, has expertise in in CPU, GPU and FPGA (Field-programmable gate array) processing solutions where, it says, efficiency and data throughput are critical.
A field-programmable gate array (FPGA) is an integrated circuit designed to be configured by a customer or a designer after manufacturing – hence ‘field-programmable’.
According to Myrtle Software’s proposal, developing Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) hardware for automobiles is complex, expensive, iterative and slow. Development and rollout in the marketplace is further slowed, it states, by the standards required for the car industry. A major consequence being advanced computer vision algorithms, already used in other industries for human safety, have been slow to appear in connected cars.
The project is exploring the feasibility of developing new technologies for realtime image processing to drastically reduce the iteration times for producing ADAS hardware. The project will produce hardware versions of algorithms using its software and evaluate the efficiency of the resulting process. Myrtle claims that, if successful, the project will see the UK well-placed to be at the forefront of owning the IP within all the chips in future car models and leading the way in making our roads safer.
On announcing the awarding of the project Brian Tyler, Myrtle’s Director of Innovation, said “We’re very excited to become part of this high profile government program and work closely with major automobile companies. Accessing real-world sensor data will enable Myrtle to showcase our flagship compiler technology and prove the efficiency gains that our strongly typed proprietary pipeline can bring to the real world deployment of algorithms inside the next generation of automobiles.”
Bristol based Aptcore Limited has been awarded £122,395 (70% of costs) to assess the feasibility of a low cost hardware and software platform for provision of collision avoidance and situational awareness capability to autonomous vehicles.
The envisaged system comprises a set of licensable hardware designs, software applications and developer configuration tools, to enable non-experts to implement and configure a system suitable for their pod or other autonomous vehicle.
This, according to the proposal abstract, will lower the barriers to entry for the autonomous vehicle market, bringing the benefits of increased competition and lower price.
The 12 month project will leverage some of AptCore's existing IP, function libraries and applications, and will add further capabilities and a user configuration tool to attempt to implement a situational awareness system with collision avoidance suitable for a small electric vehicle.
The company has previously successful bid for the Innovate UK projects:
Second Connected and Autonomous Vehicles competition
KTN coordinated the networking event for this competition last October - Connected and Autonomous Vehicles competition briefing - open to disruptive innovations, and is currently organising the scoping workshops to influence the scope of the government’s second Connected and Autonomous Vehicles competition.
To register your interest in participating to shape the scope of this competition, you can sign up on the Eventbrite form linked from your preferred event below: