December 05, 2014
Tata Motors UK R&D Centre joins 'UK Autodrive' consortium project to demonstrate and integrate driverless cars into everyday life
- Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) to contribute Tata brand prototype autonomous vehicles for controlled tests in urban environment
- Research team to test public reaction to autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles around Milton Keynes and Coventry
- Real-world testing on public roads will develop in-car, car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure technologies that will support autonomous driving
- Studies will help develop new legal and insurance protocols to make driverless mobility a safe and viable reality
Innovate UK has announced that ‘UK Autodrive’, a consortium of forward thinking local authorities, the UK’s leading technology and automotive businesses and academic institutions, has won one of the UK Government’s projects in the ‘Introducing Driverless Cars’ competition.
The aim of the project is to establish the UK as a global hub for the development of autonomous vehicle technologies and to integrate driverless vehicles into existing urban environments by trialling them in two major UK cities. Not only will the programme help develop the new protocols and connected infrastructure required to deliver future autonomous mobility, it will allow the UK Autodrive team to test public reaction to both driverless cars and self-driving pods.
The funding provided by Innovate UK will be matched by the 12 consortium members to create a £19.2million three-year project that will be managed by design and engineering consultants Arup. UK Autodrive will deliver a programme of feasibility studies and practical demonstrations in Milton Keynes and Coventry, where the city councils are taking the lead in developing the urban infrastructure technologies required to support driverless mobility.
The feasibility studies will consider the significant implications and challenges of introducing autonomous vehicles from a technical, social, ethical and economic perspective. The studies will provide insights for vehicle manufacturers, such as Tata Motors and Jaguar Land Rover, cities, commercial operators, legislators and insurers to develop the operational and legal framework for the roll-out of autonomous mobility.
Controlled environment and on-road testing will include the 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.
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.”
Nick Fell, director and head of TMETC, said: “This project will enable Tata Motors to test and evaluate its autonomous vehicle technology alongside world class partners, and we are very excited about the prospect of sharing our knowledge and learning from others in this ground breaking technology with both UK and global significance.”
The 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. This will provide all the partners and stakeholders in the project extremely valuable data in all aspects of the design, development, interaction and communication of multi-modal mobility systems, to create world leading capabilities here in the UK.”
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, Thales (UK), Oxbotica, AXA, international law firm Wragge-Lawrence-Graham, the Transport Systems Catapult, the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and the Open University.
The leader of Coventry City Council, Cllr Ann Lucas, said: “Coventry has a great history of innovation, and the skills and knowledge we have here, thanks to our two world class universities and businesses already at the forefront of technological change, mean we’re ideally placed to work with our partners to deliver another world first.
“This is really exciting news and puts us at the heart of some of the latest technology, development and research in this area.”
Jonathan Browning, chairman of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We very much welcome the announcement and this major funding is central to our commitment to be a key player in developing new technology for the future.
“We look forward to working with other LEPs on this project and this underlines the importance of Coventry and Warwickshire’s research and design and automotive expertise in this exciting sector.”