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Driverless cars to be trialled between London and Oxford

Autonomous Jaguar XF

A fleet of driverless vehicles using UK-built software to be trialled between Oxford and London in a 30-month trial set to take place in 2019.

Oxford-based artificial intelligence company, Oxbotica, is leading a consortium of companies that will help to cement the UK’s reputation as a world leader in the development of autonomous vehicles with the scheme.

The DRIVEN consortium – which benefits from a £8.6 million grant awarded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and delivered through Innovate UK – will put manned cars onto the streets of the capital, navigating traffic before heading north as part of the trials of fully-autonomous technology.

Due to commence in April 2017, the 30-month programme of trials will aim to shake-up both the transportation and insurance industries by seeking to remove fundamental barriers to real-world commercial deployment of autonomous vehicles, a statement said.

Dr Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, said: “Today’s news is truly ground-breaking. No company, group or consortium of autonomy experts has ever attempted what DRIVEN is planning over the next 30-months.

“We are seeking to address some of the most fundamental challenges preventing the future commercial deployment of fully autonomous vehicles.

“I have full confidence in DRIVEN’s world-leading and internationally respected team of specialists to deliver this project.”

The consortium’s work will include the use of a fleet of six inter-communicating vehicles equipped with Selenium, Oxbotica’s cutting-edge vehicle manufacturer (OEM) agnostic software.

As a platform, Selenium provides any vehicle it is applied to with an awareness of where it is, what surrounds it and, with that knowledge in hand, how it should move to complete a task.

Professor Paul Newman, head of the Oxford Robotics Institute based at the University of Oxford, and one of Oxbotica’s founders, said: “DRIVEN is the first of its kind and brings a host of new questions surrounding the way these vehicles will communicate with each other.

“We’re moving from the singleton autonomous vehicle, to fleets of autonomous vehicles – and what’s interesting to us at the Oxford Robotics Institute is what data the vehicles share with one another, when, and why.”

Joining Oxbotica as partners in the UK project are: Oxford Robotics Institute, re/insurer XL Catlin, Nominet, Telefonica O2 UK, TRL, the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s RACE, Oxfordshire County Council, Transport for London and Westbourne Communications.

The various contributors have come together just over a months after Business Secretary Greg Clark, confirmed the award of £38 million for industry-led research and development projects to deliver the next generation of AI and control systems on 21 April 2017.

Rob Wallis, chief executive at TRL, said: “We continue to see a major industry shift towards automation, connectivity and electrification of vehicles, and the use of shared mobility schemes.

“Such market disruption is transforming the way people will travel, especially in cities, and it is vital that the UK remains at the forefront of this development.

“TRL believes the UK Government's CAV ambitions, in partnership with British businesses, remains critical in ensuring the UK plays its role as a major global innovator within this fast-changing market.

“TRL is proud to be engaged in an ever-increasing programme of innovative CAV initiatives, building on its many decades of experience in this field."

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