Autonomous vehicles on London streets by Christmas
A consortium has announced it is to start testing autonomous vehicles on the streets of London before Christmas.
The DRIVEN consortium, led by software provider Oxbotica, revealed yesterday (25 November), it is to start a pilot programme, mapping the streets of Hounslow before the end of the year, following successful trials in Oxford.
As with the other trials undertaken by DRIVEN, there will always be a fully qualified safety driver behind the steering wheel.
They sit alongside an engineer monitoring the vehicle’s functions in the car.
During the trials, fellow consortium members Nominet and AXA XL will be testing data transfer, making this the most all-encompassing autonomous vehicles trial to date.
The data gathered during these trials will provide vital information to support the consortium’s plans to run a fleet of autonomous vehicles between Oxford and London in 2019.
In the lead up to this, London trials will continue until Summer 2019.
To conduct the mapping, the vehicles are fitted with a wide variety of technology including Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy software, radar, lidar sensors, on board computers, and cameras.
“Being autonomous before Christmas will showcase the huge amount of work Oxbotica’s expert team of engineers has completed since the DRIVEN consortium was established,” said Oxbotica Chief Executive, Dr Graeme Smith.
“These trials further demonstrate to the wider UK public that connected and autonomous vehicles will play an important role in the future of transport. This milestone shows the advanced state of our capabilities and firmly keeps us on the road to providing the technology needed to revolutionise road travel.”
The advent of autonomous vehicles has proved to be highly controversial, with some people questioning whether they can operate safety.
Currently, all driverless cars tested on public roads in the UK must have a vehicle operator in the car ready to take over controls in an emergency or situation outside the system’s capabilities.
Last week, the Government announced it would back three public autonomous vehicle trials by 2021.
The three pilots will include an autonomous bus service across the Forth Bridge from Fife to Edinburgh, and self-driving taxi services in London.
“Autonomous vehicles and their technology will not only revolutionise how we travel, it will open up and improve transport services for those who struggle to access both private and public transport,” said Business Secretary, Greg Clark.
“The UK is building on its automotive heritage and strengths to develop the new vehicles and technologies and from 2021 the public will get to experience the future for themselves.”
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