Artificial Intelligence

Project puts autonomous vehicles on the roads around Oxford

8th September 2017
Lanna Cooper


On the 5th September 2017, DRIVEN consortium unveiled the first three of its proposed fleet of six self-driving vehicles, a white and blue 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium hybrid, a 2017 Ford Mondeo hybrid and a Range Rover Evoque.

One of the self-driving vehicles, the Range Rover Evoque was on display at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) event 2017 in Millbrook, Bedfordshire, UK.

DRIVEN Project Director and Oxbotica CEO, Graeme Smith said: “We’re hugely excited to be unveiling the cars we’ll be using to run our autonomous driving trials in our special DRIVEN livery. While local residents around our Oxford office will have had a few sneak previews of our first vehicle, now everyone can see our Range Rover Evoque, Ford Mondeo and Ford Fusion as they will appear early next year in self-driving mode on public roads around Oxford and then along the Oxford to London corridor.”

Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation said: “Testing the technology that enables autonomous driving is clearly an important part of the development process.

"High visibility branding of the test vehicles is a good thing, as they move from extensive off-road trials to streets where they’ll be mixing with everyday traffic, so that we know not to panic when we see one approaching with no-one holding the steering wheel.

"Possibly the most important thing about these trials is not the development of the technology as such but the building of our confidence in how it works, because that will be key to public acceptance of driverless vehicles both as road users and in time as potential passengers.”

The project will see a fleet of Level 4 autonomous vehicles being deployed in urban areas and on motorways. It will culminate in multiple end-to-end journeys between London and Oxford in 2019. Level 4 autonomous vehicles are able to drive without any human intervention most of the time.

At RACE’s AV test facility at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, testing includes navigating roundabouts, traffic junctions, awareness of pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles. As a precaution during testing, fully licensed and specially trained safety drivers, will be in the vehicles at all times.

There will be public demonstrations of the self-driving vehicles on selected roads around Oxford in early 2018. The project expects the fleet to increase to four in the next six months, and to six by late 2018. The wide-area road testing of the fleet is due to start in late summer 2018 across low speed urban and higher speed, long distance motorway driving.

The vehicles are fitted with Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy software, lidar sensors, on board computers, and cameras. The consortium claims that, through its members at Telefonica and Nominet, it ensures security of this data to protect drivers and other vehicles from cyber security threats.

The consortium, XL Catlin and TRL is to develop real time risk assessment systems to improve overall system performance across real world conditions. By 2019, the consortium plans to have developed a real time risk register that automatically processes a range of data from both the vehicle and external sources, for example traffic control systems.

Testing of data sharing with insurance systems is due to take place from January 2018, when so-called insurance in the loop will automatically grant cover when the vehicle is in autonomous mode in connected cities.

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