UK Autodrive demonstrates autonomous parking

A ground-breaking UK trial of connected and autonomous vehicle technology has been demonstrating how parking difficulties could soon be a thing of the past today in Milton Keynes.

The UK Autodrive project has been using public roads and car parks in Milton Keynes to show how connected and autonomous vehicles could make the search for parking spaces much easier in future.

Project partners Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) demonstrated on Thursday how cars could communicate with each other to notify drivers of available parking spaces – without the need for any additional parking bay sensors. Upon entering the car park, the cars get an updated heat map showing availability, while real-time updates from other connected cars show spaces filling and becoming vacant.

The technology being trialled as part of the UK Autodrive project is intended to take the guesswork out of finding spaces by sending information about available spaces directly to connected or autonomous cars.

‘Connected and autonomous vehicles are expected to bring a large number of social benefits, from improved road safety to an easing of traffic congestion due in part by a reduction in accidents. The possible benefits in terms of parking should also not be overlooked,’ said Tim Armitage, Arup’s UK Autodrive project director.

As well as demonstrating potential future parking solutions, the three car manufacturers also carried out their first public road trials of two connected car safety features.

The first involved an Emergency Vehicle Warning (EVW) system, which alerts drivers when an emergency vehicle is approaching and also indicates which direction it is coming from.

The second trial demonstrated an Electronic Emergency Brake Light (EEBL) feature which gives a warning when another connected car further up the road brakes heavily – potentially giving drivers several additional seconds to avoid a possible collision.

In addition to trialing connected and autonomous road-based vehicles, the UK Autodrive project is due to trial a fleet of up to 40 low-speed self-driving ‘pod’ vehicles in pedestrianised areas of Milton Keynes over the summer. A final set of UK Autodrive demonstrations, involving both types of vehicle, is then scheduled to be held in the autumn, in the project’s two host cities of Milton Keynes and Coventry.