Three-year UK Autodrive project gets underway

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A pioneering project to trial self-driving and connected vehicles on UK roads and pedestrianised areas got officially underway on Sunday, following the signing of a consortium agreement by the project partners and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The UK Autodrive programme is one of three projects to have emerged successfully from the UK government’s ‘Introducing Driverless Cars’ competition with the aim of establishing the UK as a global hub for the development of autonomous vehicle technologies.

Taking place in Milton Keynes and Coventry, UK Autodrive will carry out on-road trials of connected and autonomous cars provided by project partners Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Motors European Technical Centre. The programme will also trial a fleet of lightweight, self-driving ‘pods’ for use on pavements and other pedestrianised areas.

As well as the vehicle trials, UK Autodrive will conduct a number of feasibility studies to examine the significant implications and challenges of introducing autonomous vehicles from a technical, social and economic perspective. The studies will provide insights for vehicle manufacturers, cities, commercial operators, legislators and insurers to develop the legal framework for the wider roll-out of autonomous mobility.

“The signing of the consortium agreement is a really important step for everyone involved in the UK Autodrive programme, as it marks the end of the setting up phase and the start of the programme proper,” said Tim Armitage, project director for engineering and design consultants Arup, who are leading the programme.

“We are now all really looking forward to bringing together our collective expertise to demonstrate the opportunities offered by this exciting new technology.”

The partners in the UK Autodrive consortium are Arup, Milton Keynes Council, Coventry City Council, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motor Company, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, RDM Group, HORIBA-MIRA, Oxbotica, AXA, Gowling WLG, Thales, Transport Systems Catapult, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Open University.