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    What vehicles are involved?

    We will be trialling automated vehicle and connected vehicle technologies using two distinct types of vehicle:

    The first will be ‘regular’ passenger vehicles (M1 classification) provided by Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motor Company and Tata Motors European Technical Centre. These will look very much like the cars we are used to seeing on roads now, but will feature increasingly advanced autonomous and connected vehicle communications systems. A total of seven M1 cars are due to take part in the programme (three provided by Jaguar Land Rover and two each by Ford Motor Company and Tata Motors European Technical Centre).

    The second type of vehicle will be low-speed electric-powered ‘pods’ provided by RDM Group. These will be similar in appearance to the three pods being trialled in Milton Keynes as part of the initial LUTZ Pathfinder project. By the latter stages of the programme, it is planned to have a fleet of 40 autonomous pods operating on pedestrianised sections of Milton Keynes.

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    What will the vehicles be able to do? Are they fully driverless? Will they drive around with no one in them?

    The M1 vehicles will be trialling technologies that offer ever-increasing levels of automation and driver assistance with the aim of reaching fully autonomous operation in some controlled circumstances. Some of the cars in the road-based trials will be used to demonstrate car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications systems, rather than autonomous systems.

    The pavement-based pods are designed to operate completely autonomously. By the end of the programme the pods will be used to demonstrate a small-scale public transport system in Milton Keynes. Earlier stages of the programme will be used to trial and demonstrate capabilities that will be required to deliver this service.

    In the three-year timescale of UK Autodrive, the road-based passenger cars will continue to contain an occupant who can be responsible for the vehicle’s safe operation. Towards the end of the programme, we envisage that the pod vehicles will be able to travel around without occupants. A safety controller will continue to monitor the pods remotely.

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    What technology do the vehicles rely on? What happens if there isn’t enough GPS signal strength?

    The electric-powered pod vehicles operating in pedestrianised areas of Milton Keynes will be equipped with a wide range of sensors, including stereo cameras, LIDAR (laser-scanners) and ultrasonic obstacle detectors – as well as the computers required to process the incoming information and steer the pods. The M1 vehicles will also employ a range of sensor, communication and positioning technologies. GPS and other space-based satellite navigation systems are not currently accurate or reliable enough to be used as primary sources of navigation data for automated transport systems. Satellite navigation systems will therefore only be used, if at all, for non-essential applications.

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