Autonomous vehicle trials carried out by the DRIVEN consortium will begin on London’s roads before Christmas.
The trials will start by mapping the streets of Hounslow, and are seen as a major step forward in the Oxbotica-led consortium’s ambition of having a fleet of fully autonomous cars completing trials on roads between London and Oxford in 2019.
Dr Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, said: “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.
“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 data gathered in the London trials will help the project to understand the contents of street signs, and the meanings of lane markings on the road to enable vehicles to be as knowledgeable as a local resident about the complexities of each street.
This process will be repeated many times, and at different times, improving the understanding of how the streets change in different lighting conditions, weather and seasons of the year.
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.
As with all 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.
As well as Oxbotica, the DRIVEN consortium, which has benefited from an £8.6 million grant from Innovate UK, consists of Oxford Robotics Institute, AXA XL, Nominet, Telefonica, TRL, the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s robotics centre RACE, Oxfordshire County Council, Westbourne Communications and Transport for London.