The cars of the future took to the streets of Coventry this week with the latest demonstration of vehicles that can communicate with each other and even infrastructure such as traffic lights.
A small fleet of cars, featuring some of the pioneering systems that will be on the self-driving cars of the future, conducted real world demonstrations as part of the final stage of a project trialling connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).
The Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Tata vehicles took people on a tour of the city to demonstrate the latest technologies at work, on a route which took in the ring road, the A429 Kenilworth Road and the A45.
The vehicles was based on the outdoor exhibition space to the front of Coventry Transport Museum.
The demonstrations also saw the Coventry-made Aurrigo driverless pods in action.
Pods will be used in various settings
These are being developed as a system to offer driverless transport solutions in locations such as airports, shopping centres and exhibition halls.
The demonstration vehicles showcased just some of the technological features being developed to allow cars to communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure.
They included an emergency vehicle warning alert.
This tells a driver when a police car, fire engine or ambulance is approaching, from what direction and how far away it is.
Among the most sophisticated technology being developed is that which communicates with traffic lights.
Working with traffic light changes
The driver can be instructed to stay within a certain speed band in order for him to reach a traffic light as it is about to turn green.
Features such as this will enable smoother traffic flow and aid fuel economy.
Another is an emergency braking system that alerts drivers when a car that could be several cars in front applies its brakes suddenly.
The UK Autodrive project is the largest of three projects to have emerged from the Government’s Introducing Driverless Cars competition in 2015, which had the aim of establishing the UK as a global hub for the development of autonomous vehicle technologies.
UK Autodrive, which includes partners such as Coventry City Council, Jaguar Land Rover, RDM Group and HORIBA-MIRA, has played a pivotal role in helping to achieve this and supporting the Government’s ambition to see driverless cars on the road by 2021.
The future’s changing fast
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, said: “The future of car travel is certainly changing – and fast. So I’m pleased that we have once again been able to show what autonomous and connected cars can do in real road situations.
“With the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, WMG, JLR and two great universities all based here we are at the very heart of innovating in this area and this work is the natural next step for a city like Coventry with its rich history and now its future rooted in motor manufacturing and new technology development.
“These innovations will help to make our roads safer and help to cut congestion and although there is still lots more research and development to be done, this is the start of a very exciting journey and I’m pleased that we are leading the way.”
“UK Autodrive has been a hugely successful project that was delivered on time and on budget,” said Arup’s Tim Armitage, UK Autodrive project director.”
Series of trials
Cllr O’Boyle added: “Taking place in Milton Keynes, Coventry, and on the Horiba MIRA test track, UK Autodrive carried out a series of trials of increasing complexity which have demonstrated the functionality and potential of connected and self-driving cars.
“The programme also delivered a fleet of lightweight, autonomous ‘pods’ which have been designed to operate last-mile services in an urban environment.
“The pods have demonstrated how they could be used to provide a public transport service to residents of Milton Keynes.
“The real advances that the UK Autodrive partners have developed and which we have demonstrated will be shaping the next generation of vehicles, the roads, regulations and safeguards needed to accommodate them, and the people using them.”