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Three consortia projects selected for road trials of driverless vehicles in Greenwich, Milton Keynes, Coventry and Bristol

4 December 2014 - Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced in yesterday’s Autumn Financial Statement that Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry (working together as one project) and Bristol will be the locations for three successful consortia that have been selected by InnovateUK for its Introducing driverless cars to UK roads competition.

The three consortia will involve almost forty participating companies and organisations in the trials of autonomous vehicles in four cities, due to get underway early next year.

The aim of the trials is to establish the UK as the global hub for the research, development and integration of driverless vehicles and associated technologies.

Innovate UK had secured £10 million of funding for testing innovative driverless cars in the real world.

An additional £9 million has been provided by government to increase the prize fund for driverless car testbeds, enabling trials in Bristol, London, Milton Keynes and Coventry from next year.

The trials in four cities will will last between 18 and 36 months from January 2015.


Introducing driverless cars to UK roads

Testing driverless cars in a real-world environment will help lead to greater levels of understanding of these vehicles. It will also allow the public to accept how the vehicles will fit into everyday life.

The funding comes through our competition, Introducing driverless cars to UK roads.

Nick Jones, lead technologist for the low carbon vehicle innovation platform at Innovate UK, said “Cars that drive themselves would represent the most significant transformation in road travel since the introduction of the internal combustion engine and at Innovate UK, we want to help the UK to lead the world in making that happen.”

“There are so many new and exciting technologies that can come together to make driverless cars a reality, but it’s vital that trials are carried out safely, that the public have confidence in that technology and we learn everything we can through the trials so that legal, regulation and protection issues don’t get in the way in the future.”


GATEway project - Royal Borough of Greenwich

TRL, the Wokingham-based Transport Research Laboratory that has been involved in testing and developing automated vehicles for more than fifty years, is to lead the GATEway project, which stands for the Greenwich Automated Transport Environment.

The £8 million project will involve three separate trials of different types of zero emission automated vehicles within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, world famous for the ‘prime meridian’.

As well as fitting its historic association with navigation, the project also aligns with the London Borough’s ‘Smart City’ agenda, for using technology to address the needs of its residents. I also stated that growth of the digital industry “is a significant strand of its regeneration plans”.

The consortia intends to demonstrate automated passenger shuttle transport systems and autonomous valet parking for adapted cars. Objective and subjective feedback usage will be captured to understand the extent to which these systems are used, trusted and accepted.

TRL’s DigiCar driving simulator will be used in parallel to investigate driver behaviour in automated vehicles using a photorealistic 3D model of the Greenwich peninsula. Risk, liability and insurance issues will addressed, while pedestrian interaction with automated vehicles will be modelled and adaptation to traffic lights will also be explored.

TRLis to lead the GATEway project with the Royal Borough of Greenwich as the testing location and ‘Smart City’ partner.

Three large multinational organisations are also participating; RSA (an insurer operating in 28 countries), Shell (the global group of energy and petrochemicals companies) and Telefónica (the Spanish telecommunications company that owns the UK mobile operator and, local venue sponsor, O2).

Research capability is augmented by the Royal College of Art, which is leading stakeholder engagement activities for the project, plus the University of Greenwich and Imperial College London will provide specialists in pedestrian modelling and cybersecurity respectively.

The automated vehicle technology to be tested will be provided by Phoenix Wings, a company that recently relocated to Greenwich and has a 35% holding of the French start-up INDUCT SAS that developed the ‘Navia’ 100% driverless shuttle that was demonstrated in Las Vegas earlier this year.

Public responses to the trial will be mapped using social media tools by Shoredich-based Crowd-sourcing experts Commonplace, will be using whilst additional vehicle adaptation and robotics expertise will be provided by Shrewsbury based GOBOTiX.

The project will also be supported by an advisory group chaired by Lord Borwick of Hawkshead, with representatives from General Motors, ATOS Worldline, the AA, the Highways Agency and the RAC Foundation.


UK Autodrive - Coventry and Milton Keynes

UK Autodrive, an Arup led consortium involving two local authorities, won support for a programme of feasibility studies and practical demonstrations in Coventry and Milton Keynes.

Arup said the funding provided by Innovate UK will be matched by the 12 consortium members to create a £19.2m three year project.

On-road testing will include real-world evaluation of passenger cars with increasing levels of autonomy, as well as the development and evaluation of lightweight fully autonomous self-driving pods designed for pedestrianised spaces.

The partners in the UK Autodrive consortium are Arup, Milton Keynes Council, Coventry Council, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motor Company, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, RDM Group, MIRA, Oxbotica, AXA, law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co., the Transport Systems Catapult, the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and the Open University.

AXA’s input will involve monitoring and evaluating the emerging risks, which will allow the Government to make necessary changes to existing legislation and provide a sound insurance template to facilitate these advancements. AXA will form part of an advisory panel that examines the regulatory implications as the UK Autodrive project progresses, and will also oversee risk assessment throughout the VENTURER project in Bristol (below).

Steve Yianni, chief executive of the Transport Systems Catapult said, “UK Autodrive will build on the success of the LUTZ Pathfinder programme, using the design and performance information it generates, to create a city-scale demonstrator."

Tim Armitage, UK Autodrive Project Director, Arup, said, "The UK Autodrive consortium brings together world-class expertise that will help the UK position itself as a leader in the development and adoption of autonomous driving technologies." 

"As well as developing and testing the in-car, car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure technologies that will be required to drive cars autonomously on our roads in the future, the project will also place great emphasis on the role and perceptions of drivers, pedestrians and other road users."

"The Low-Speed Autonomous Transport System (L-SATS) will provide the first commercial scale demonstration of a solution for last-mile urban mobility which will have global significance."

"Our plan with the practical demonstration phases is to start testing with single vehicles on closed roads, and to build up to a point where all road users, as well as legislators, the police and insurance companies, are confident about how driverless pods and fully and partially autonomous cars can operate safely on UK roads."


The VENTURER consortium - Bristol

A simulator from Williams Advanced Engineering


A simulator from Williams Advanced Engineering



The VENTURER consortium has secured funding from Innovate UK to test driverless cars in the Bristol region.

VENTURER is made up of organisations in the South West which includes Atkins, Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire Council, AXA, Williams Advanced Engineering, Fusion Processing, Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), University of Bristol and Bristol Robotics Laboratory, a collaboration between the University of Bristol and UWE Bristol.

Lee Woodcock, technology director for Atkins’ Highways & Transportation business, is the VENTURER project lead.

Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson said, “The novelty of Bristol’s approach is our focus on public-private-citizen partnerships, championing experimental solutions through the deployment of information and communications technology (ICT) and digital technologies in a people friendly manner.”

“Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council have a long-standing commitment to sustainability and we place green issues at the heart of our vision for the city. As we embark on our year as European Green Capital 2015, we hope to seize even more opportunities to bring new investment, businesses and visitors to the region.”

AXA will be responsible for overseeing risk assessment throughout the VENTURER project.

Professor Graham Parkhurst, Director, Centre for Transport and Society at UWE said: “The possibility of driverless cars running in city centres presents some important challenges for how we manage the interactions of people and vehicles. Pedestrians will still want the freedom to cross the road where it suits them, but driverless cars will need to be able to make progress safely if they are to be effective. Driverless cars also have a large potential to change both our travel patterns, and what we do while we travel. Will travellers be able to read a book in urban traffic, or will they feel too travelsick? More people could travel by car if they don't need a licence themselves or someone to drive them. This could open up opportunities to people but might also mean more car traffic. On the other hand, cars driven automatically are expected to be more energy efficient than when driven by the typical human, and people might be more willing to share if nobody is taking the responsibility for the driving. So a key challenge is to understand how far driverless cars will be a good or bad development in environmental terms.”

The University of Bristol’s Communications Systems & Networks (CSN) group will develop wireless links that enable driverless vehicles to communicate with smart city infrastructure. Vehicles will also exchange sensory data via direct car-2-car wireless communication links. This will allow the sharing of hazard warnings and new “look ahead” functionality.   

Bristol Robotics Laboratory, a collaboration between the University and UWE Bristol, will provide system integration. BRL will customise the vehicle to make it suitable for urban transportation and equip the cars with sensing and video processing capabilities.


Fast-tracked competition

Knowledge Transfer Network successfully helped promote an information and networking event for the fast-tracked Introducing driverless cars to UK roads competition on the 30 July, as well as a webinar briefing event on the 12 September 2014.

The Pitches and presentations are available to download, plus a webinar recording of the information and networking event is also available to review.

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