Driverless technology sent to Coventry

A project that could see autonomous driving tests held on UK public roads as early as next year began yesterday.

Supported by the government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund, the UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment (UK CITE) project aims to turn 40 miles of tarmac within Coventry and Warwickshire into a testing ground for connected vehicle technology.

By using a combination of wireless technologies, it will create the UK’s first fully connected infrastructure on public roads to enable safe and controlled trials in real-life conditions. The UK CITE consortium, which comprises leading industry, academic and local and national governmental organisations, hopes to establish how this technology can improve journeys, reduce traffic congestion and provide in-vehicle entertainment and safety services through better connectivity.

Phase One includes the preparation of infrastructure on routes along the M40, M42, A46, and A45 – as well as an urban route in Coventry – and the development of a vehicle, systems and gantry app to ensure roadside messages appear in-vehicle, either on the vehicle display or smartphone. It’s due to continue until the end of this year, with pre-test trials taking place on HORIBA MIRA’s City Circuit.

Claire Lewis is senior business development manager at joint leading consortium partner, Visteon Engineering, which is responsible for overall technical architecture of the project. She said, ‘The UK CITE project is an ideal opportunity for automotive manufacturers, technology and infrastructure providers and service operators, and infrastructure operators to collaborate to develop a real-world test bed for connected technology in a non-competitive environment.  The UK CITE project will enable all partners to accelerate their learning on cyber security and safety whilst exploring the commercial opportunities of the connected vehicle area.’

Tony Harper, head of research and technology at Jaguar Land Rover, the other lead partner, said, ‘This real-life laboratory will allow Jaguar Land Rover’s research team and project partners to test new connected and autonomous vehicle technologies on five different types of roads and junctions.

‘Other research corridors already exist in other parts of Europe. This test route with its mixture of road types and technology deployment is challenging the technology operation in real world environments and will provide the insight needed for deployment. This test route is exactly the sort of innovative infrastructure the UK needs to compete globally.

‘The connected and autonomous vehicle features we will be testing will improve road safety, enhance the driving experience, reduce the potential for traffic jams and improve traffic flow. These technologies will also help us meet the increasing customer demand for connected services whilst on the move.’

Also part of the consortium are Coventry City Council, Coventry University, Highways England Company, HORIBA MIRA, Huawei Technologies (UK), Siemens, Vodafone Group Services, and WMG at University of Warwick.