Trials of connected and autonomous vehicle technology have been launched on the streets of central Coventry by the UK Autodrive project.
Project partners Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) will test new technologies that allow cars to “talk” to each other and their surroundings, including connected traffic lights, emergency vehicle warnings and emergency braking alerts.
Jaguar Land Rover and TMETC will also conduct trials of autonomous vehicle technology on the city streets as part of their efforts to develop self-driving vehicle technology in a real-world setting. Test operators will supervise the cars at all times.
Tim Armitage, Arup’s UK Autodrive project director, said that the start of the trials was “a major landmark both for the project and for the UK as a whole”.
He added: “Our previous private test track trials showed that the technology works but it is only on real roads that we will start to see the scale of the benefits that it can bring to the general public.”
Coventry City Councillor Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, said: “I’m really pleased that the UK’s first collaborative on-road trialling of autonomous and connected vehicles is taking place in Coventry — the birthplace of the motor car.
“This new technology is moving rapidly and this is an important step and one we are all very excited about. Autonomous and connected cars will be a reality in the near future and I am confident they will help to boost safety, reduce congestion and improve air quality. Along with battery technology they will also help to create thousands of new jobs in the automotive sector and its supply chain.”
Further on-road trials are planned to take place in Coventry and Milton Keynes early next year, followed by a final series of demonstration events in both cities during the second half of 2018. UK Autodrive is also trialling a fleet of up to 40 self-driving pavement-based ‘pod’ vehicles in Milton Keynes.