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11 December, 2014 - 18:50 By News Desk

Cambridge helps put driverless cars into overdrive

Vince-Cable-at-Hexcel-Corp

Cambridge University is a partner in a three-year, multi-million pound project designed to integrate driverless cars into everyday use.

The UK Autodrive consortium plans to will test public reaction to driverless cars and conduct real-world testing on public roads around Milton Keynes and Coventry.

The project, which involves local authorities, technology and automotive businesses and other academic institutions, will have the added benefit of establishing the UK as a global hub for the development of autonomous vehicle technologies.

The programme will help develop the new protocols and connected infrastructure required to deliver future autonomous mobility; the UK Autodrive team are keen to test public reaction to both driverless cars and self-driving pods.

Funding provided by Innovate UK, will be matched by the 12 consortium members to create a £19.2 million three year project which will be led by design and engineering consultants Arup. 

The feasibility studies and practical demonstrations will take place in Milton Keynes and Coventry, where the city councils are taking the lead in developing the urban infrastructure technologies required to support driverless mobility.

Cambridge University’s role involves looking at the feasibility of driverless public transport (L-SATS, or Low-Speed Autonomous Transport System), assessing the public’s reactions to and perceptions of autonomous vehicles, and assessing their possible impact on congestion. 

The studies will provide insights for vehicle manufacturers, cities, commercial operators, legislators and insurers to develop the legal framework for the roll-out of autonomous mobility.

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.

The consortium’s plans for the practical demonstration phases is to start testing with single vehicles on closed roads and 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.

Business Secretary, Vince Cable said: “The UK is a world-leader in the development of driverless technology and this announcement will see driverless cars take to city streets from January 1. 

“This not only puts us at the forefront of this transformational technology but it also opens up new opportunities for our economy and society.”

The partners in the consortium are Arup, Milton Keynes Council, Coventry Council, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motor Company, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, RDM Group, MIRA, Oxbotica, AXA, international law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, the Transport Systems Catapult, the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and the Open University.• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Vince Cable. Image courtesy – Hexcel Corporation

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