UK in the driving seat of driverless cars

1st March 2016
Posted By : Joe Bush
UK in the driving seat of driverless cars

A UK initiative designed to study data critical to the efficient operation of driverless cars has secured funding from Innovate UK that will put the country at the forefront of connected and autonomous vehicles. The Atlas initiative, a consortium of UK businesses, will use the funding to research and develop communication between vehicles and roadside infrastructure.

If successful the initiative could lead to a more rapid take-up of connected and autonomous vehicles. The consortium is made up of Ordnance Survey, Satellite Applications Catapult, the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), Sony Europe, two UK specialist SMEs in autonomous and navigation systems - GOBOTIX and OxTS - and the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

Jeremy Morley, Ordnance Survey’s Chief Geospatial Scientist, stressed the strength of the consortium and the potential benefits from the Atlas project: “Autonomous vehicles will need to find their way reliably and safely through a vast network of streets while interacting with driven and other autonomous vehicles. Imagine sections of road (other than motorways) equipped with beacons using the potential of 5G technology and geospatial accuracy to sense ‘unexpected objects’ (a.k.a ‘children and animals’), that may unwittingly stray into the path of an oncoming autonomous vehicle. Engines in autonomous cars that pick up on road surface conditions perhaps, to adjust a car’s tyre pressures. We’re already seeing developments along these lines as collaborations between other mapping organisations and a range of car manufacturers - for example, BMW and AUDI.

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “As part of the government's investment in connected and autonomous vehicles, we're hugely encouraged by the value placed on ensuring robust and resilient satellite data - a fundamental part of a successful data driven programme. This will provide end users with the assurance and confidence they require that data access, discovery and retrieval is managed securely by all associated parties.”

Rob Wallis, CEO at TRL added: “Atlas is the latest in a string of innovative projects to be making use of TRL’s UK Smart Mobility Lab at Greenwich. It is an important project for autonomous vehicle development because the success of this work will not only enable safe navigation of these vehicles, but help to transform our transport system and ultimately save lives. If we can understand how to safely and securely transfer data between vehicles, then we really can put the UK at the forefront of connected and automated mobility.”

Starting on 1st May, the Atlas project is one of a number of UK projects that will benefit from £20m of government investment to research and develop communication between vehicles and the roadside infrastructure.

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