Autonomous vehicles are to be tested on London streets
starting this week and continue to next summer with data used providing vital
information to support plans to run a fleet of driverless vehicles between
Oxford and London in 2019.
The DRIVEN consortium, led by Oxbotica, the autonomous
vehicle software provider, is starting the trials on London’s roads following
successful ongoing trials in Oxford.
The vehicles will be mapping the streets of Hounslow,
selected for being an outer London Borough and its role as a key link between
Oxford and London, and are expected to be autonomous by Christmas. During the
trials, consortium partners Nominet and AXA XL will be testing data transfer,
making it the most all-encompassing autonomous vehicles trial to date.
The mapping process means Oxbotica will be gathering data to
help understand the contents of street signs, and the meanings of lane markings
on the road to enable vehicles to be as knowledgeable as a local resident about
the complexities of each street. The process will be repeated many times, and
at different times, improving the understanding of how the streets change in
different lighting conditions, weather and seasons of the year.
As with all trials undertaken by DRIVEN, there will always
be a fully qualified safety driver behind the steering wheel. They sit
alongside an engineer monitoring the vehicle’s functions in the car.
The consortium, which also includes Nominet, Telefonica,
TRL, the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s robotics centre RACE, Oxfordshire County
Council, Westbourne Communications and Transport for London, is supported by an
£8.6 million grant awarded by Innovate UK, the government-backed innovation
It is the first time driverless vehicles will be trialled on
London roads. Dr Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, said: “Being
autonomous before Christmas will showcase the huge amount of work Oxbotica’s
expert team of engineers has completed since the DRIVEN consortium was
“These trials further demonstrate to the wider UK public
that connected and autonomous vehicles will play an important role in the
future of transport. This milestone shows the advanced state of our
capabilities and firmly keeps us on the road to providing the technology needed
to revolutionise road travel.”
- A consortium, led by Addison Lee, has won £15
million to introduce 15 autonomous vehicles in London from 2021, designed to
support areas which are poorly served by existing public transport. The consortium
also includes: Oxbotica, Oxford Robotics Institute, re/insurer AXA XL, Nominet,
Telefonica O2 UK, TRL, the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s robotics centre RACE,
Oxfordshire County Council, DG Cities, Westbourne Communications and Transport
for London. The service will be app-based, on demand and based on ride-sharing.
The vehicles will be low-emission, designed with pedestrian in mind and priced
at a level to generate demand without impacting other public transport. With
its end-to-end service management and experience of completing 25 000 journeys
a day in London, Addison Lee is providing the service wrapper for the project.