New project uses AI and connected vehicle technology to avoid multi-car collisions

A new project will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and vehicle-to-vehicle communications to avoid collisions between cars, aiming to dramatically reduce the number of multi-car collisions on motorways.

The Multi-Car Collision Avoidance (MuCCA) project, led by automotive design and testing firm Applus IDIADA, has been awarded funding by Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

The project partners – including Cranfield University, Westfield Sports Cars, Cosworth, Secured by Design and the Transport Systems Catapult – plan to enable cars and eventually autonomous vehicles to make cooperative decisions in order to avoid a potential accident.

Vehicles equipped with the MuCCA system will also be able to predict the likely movements of cars controlled by human drivers using AI methods. If the vehicles cannot avoid an accident altogether, the aim will be to minimise the consequences.

As part of the project, data logging capabilities will be developed to create a record of the exact causes of accidents. A computer-simulated environment will also be created, in which the vehicles’ AI systems can practise complex crash scenarios before being trialled on real-world test tracks.

Charlie Wartnaby, Chief Engineer from IDIADA, explained: “The beauty of connected vehicles is that they can share and combine sensor data with other vehicles, making them more than the sum of their parts. We can use this ability to allow machine logic to take control of a group of vehicles such that they work together in an emergency to avoid an accident, deciding optimal joint trajectories to avoid complex collisions with both human and machine-driven vehicles in a way that human drivers could not. Even a single MuCCA vehicle will have superlative collision avoidance capability using its 360-degree prediction of human-driven vehicles around it.”

Every year there are around 5,500 collisions on UK motorways, contributing to more than 1,730 annual deaths and over 22,000 serious injuries on all roads. Incidents on the motorway network also cause delays and congestion, costing UK businesses an estimated £21bn a year.

“Connected and Autonomous Vehicle technology offers us an opportunity to work towards the elimination of serious accidents on our roads, saving lives and easing congestion” Wartnaby said. “In this project, we will aim to show exactly how this can be done, whilst taking us another step closer to fully autonomous cars.”

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