The DRIVEN consortium has demonstrated to the public that two autonomous Ford vehicles can navigate hazards.
From its headquarters at the RACE Building at the Culham Science Centre in Abingdon, DRIVEN set two of its vehicles, a white and blue 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium hybrid and a 2017 Ford Mondeo hybrid on the roads.
Using their lidar sensors, on board computers, and cameras, as well as Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy and Caesium fleet tracking software, the cars were able to navigate the site autonomously.
The demonstration saw the vehicles encounter pedestrians, cyclists and other traffic.
DRIVEN is a consortium of British companies, led by Oxbotica, and enabled by the UK Government and is is jointly funded by government and industry. It has been in receipt of an £8.6m grant from the government as part of its £390m Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
DRIVEN’s partners are: Oxbotica; Oxford Robotics Institute; XL Catlin, the global re/insurer; Nominet; Telefonica O2 UK; TRL; the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s RACE business unit; Oxfordshire County Council; Westbourne Communications; and Transport for London.
DRIVEN project director and Oxbotica chief executive, Dr Graeme Smith, said: “This is a significant landmark in the development of vehicle autonomy, which has always been about more than simply self-driving.
"This public trial demonstrates that our technology is able to share data and information that vehicles are then able to use to plot more effective routes, avoid potential hazards, and anticipate conditions more effectively.
“This will have huge implications on the way autonomous vehicles will operate and how the future of road travel in the UK looks, improving safety, efficiency and productivity.”
Oxbotica’s co-founder and director of the Oxford Robotics Institute Prof. Paul Newman said: “We hope and expect that the technology that DRIVEN is developing will be adopted by vehicle manufacturers all over the world as the first wave of autonomous vehicles, as the public imagines them, comes to market.
"Our work on display here today could revolutionise people’s lives, and the UK will get to share in an industry that could be worth billions in the years ahead.”
DRIVEN hopes to see a fleet of Level 4 autonomous vehicles being deployed in urban areas and on motorways, culminating in multiple end-to-end journeys between London and Oxford in 2019.
By operating at Level 4 autonomy a vehicle has the capability of driving itself most of the time without any human input.
By Q3 2018 the fleet will be six-strong. The wide-area road testing of the fleet is due to start in late-summer 2018 across a range of environments including low-speed urban and higher speed long distance motorway driving.
By 2019, the consortium plans to have developed a risk assessment tool that automatically processes a range of data from both the vehicle and external sources that surround it, for example traffic control systems.