Project director Tim Armitage has set out some of the main aims of the UK Autodrive self-driving vehicles programme in a presentation to the inaugural Driverless Technology Conference & Exhibition in London.
Speaking just three weeks after the formal launch of the project, Mr Armitage explained how the three-year programme would trial two distinct vehicle types comprising “regular” road-based cars (provided by project partners Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Motors European Technical Centre) and pavement-based ‘pods’ manufactured by the Coventry-based RDM Group.
Mr Armitage said that trials of the road-based vehicles were expected to get underway in autumn 2016 with the pod trials following in the first half of 2017.
While the wider roll-out of self-driving vehicles is still expected by many industry experts to be several years away, Mr Armitage pointed out that UK Autodrive was being strongly backed by project host cities Milton Keynes and Coventry – and not just out of the kindness of their hearts.
“Milton Keynes and Coventry are acting as urban testbeds for this technology because they see self-driving vehicles as a real solution to real challenges,” Mr Armitage explained, citing road safety, congestion and transport accessibility as three main areas where autonomous and connected vehicles are expected to bring benefits.
The one-day conference in Earl’s Court included speakers from all three of the consortia that successfully emerged from the government’s ‘Introducing Driverless Cars’ competition, as well a presentation by Iain Forbes, head of the newly created Centre for Autonomous and Connected Vehicles.”