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First public autonomous car trials begin in Oxford

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The public trials with a fleet of six autonomous cars will take place on roads in the UK city of Oxford.

City environments

The trials will demonstrate autonomous driving in a variety of urban and city environments and will develop engagement models with local authorities and communities to help them prepare for the future launch of autonomous vehicle services.

According to the consortium, the development brings the deployment of commercial autonomous vehicles in the UK one step closer.

The consortium, part-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK, is using a combination of advanced simulations and on-road demonstrations to help accelerate and scale the deployment and adoption of autonomous vehicles.

The Government-backed R&D project will run until Autumn 2021 with live tests undertaken in three major UK cities.

A fleet of six Ford Mondeo vehicles, enabled by Oxbotica to be capable of Level 4 autonomous driving, will complete a nine-mile round trip from Oxford Parkway station to Oxford’s main train station. Trials will be run at all times of day and night, allowing Oxbotica’s autonomous vehicles to experience a range of traffic scenarios from morning commutes to school runs, in a range of weather conditions.

“The first live on-road public trials mark a key landmark for Project Endeavour as we work with local authorities and members of the public in London, Oxford and other major UK cities to shape the future of mobility”

Launched in September 2019, the project has brought together Oxbotica, a global leader in autonomous software, urban innovators DG Cities and Immense, a transport simulation company. Ahead of the public trials, three new consortium partners have joined Project Endeavour: the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), the British Standards Institution (BSI) and Oxfordshire County Council.

“Trials of Level 4 vehicles are an important milestone, keeping the UK at the head of the field in bringing the benefits of this technology into mainstream use,” said Camilla Fowler, head of automation at TRL.

“These exciting trials, and what we learn about assuring safety and encouraging interoperability, will open up new opportunities for many more research demonstrations across the UK, which are the forerunners to the full-scale public trials so eagerly awaited.”

Safety assurance

The trio of new partners will focus on the development of a new safety assurance assessment scheme against PAS 1881 standard for public autonomous trials, helping inspire trust and define a consistent approach to safety that will enable future deployments to happen efficiently without slowing down the rate of innovation.

“The first live on-road public trials mark a key landmark for Project Endeavour as we work with local authorities and members of the public in London, Oxford and other major UK cities to shape the future of mobility,” added Dr Graeme Smith, senior vice president at Oxbotica and Project Endeavour consortium director.

“Alongside our valued partners, we’re making autonomous vehicle services an everyday reality, right here in the UK.”

Project Endeavour builds on the Driven consortium, which demonstrated the capabilities of a fleet of self-driving vehicles in Oxfordshire’s and London’s challenging and complex urban environment.

Source: Smart Cities World