Self-drive cars get human touch

A research project that will help autonomous vehicles drive naturally like human drivers has received vehicles and investment from Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).

Employees of the London Borough of Greenwich will drive Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles on a daily basis to establish how different drivers react to real-world driving situations, while data from sensors in these cars will reveal the natural driving behaviours and decision-making that these drivers make whilst driving in all scenarios.

This includes more complex scenarios such as giving way at roundabouts and intersections, how drivers ease forward at junctions to enter a flow of traffic, or how they react to an emergency vehicle coming up behind their car whilst in a traffic jam.

The data will be shared with the three year £5.5m ‘MOVE-UK’ project, which is led by Bosch and includes JLR, Transport Research Laboratory, Direct Line, the London Borough of Greenwich and The Floow.

The group will also use this data to help develop insurance policies for future autonomous cars.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid announced the Government will provide a £2.75 million grant from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. This funding for collaborative research is part of the Government’s £100m Connected and Autonomous Vehicles fund.

JLR’s director of research and technology, Dr Wolfgang Epple, said, ‘Understanding how drivers react to a range of very dynamic and random situations in the real world is essential if we want drivers to embrace autonomous cars in the future.’

‘Customers are much more likely to accept highly-automated and fully autonomous vehicles if the car reacts in the same way as the driver. By understanding and measuring positive driving behaviours we can ensure that an autonomous Jaguar or Land Rover of the future will not simply perform a robotic function.

‘If this automated experience feels natural and safe, the driver will be able to genuinely relax and will be happy to let the car take control.’