Connected car tests prepare UK roads for autonomous vehicles

Trials have begun on roads in Coventry, UK

A project to create an advanced environment for connected and autonomous driving has entered its second phase of testing, with connected cars going on trial on public roads to prepare the UK’s road networks for self-driving cars.

The second phase of the UK Cite (Connected Intelligent Transport Environment) consortium will see Jaguar Land Rover trial a range of intelligent connected features such as emergency electronic brake light warning, emergency vehicle warning and in-vehicle signage for road works and traffic condition warning.

The project will create the UK’s first fully connected infrastructure, using a combination of wireless technologies, which can enable real-world testing in a safe and managed way. The project is funded by the government’s £100m connected and autonomous vehicle fund, delivered by Innovate UK. The project is worth a total of £7.1m including investment from the government and Highways England.

Work by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and Coventry City Council enabled the installation of critical infrastructure on urban roads in advance of the installation of 35 of Siemens’ Escos road-side units on the M40 and M42 motorways.

These units provide the technical platform for real-time data exchange between vehicles and traffic control equipment. Vodafone supported this phase of activity with the provision of 30 smartphones and network connectivity for infrastructure to vehicle communications.

In addition to on-road testing, simulation plays a key role in taking the project into its next phase. Horiba Mira is developing a simulation system to model connected vehicles tested via the Cite corridor and Coventry University will be using the data from the live vehicle trials and scaling them into a larger virtual environment using simulation modelling.

The Cite consortium comprises industry, academic and local and national governmental organisations. It is jointly led by Visteon Engineering Services and Jaguar Land Rover and includes Coventry City Council, Coventry University, Highways England, Horiba Mira, Huawei Technologies, Siemens, TfWM, Vodafone and WMG at University of Warwick.

Claire Lewis, senior business development manager at Visteon Engineering Services, is responsible for overall technical architecture of the project, including multipath embedded software and a smartphone application.

“This next phase of testing is critical in testing the capabilities and providing valuable metrics of the connected network we’re developing,” she said. “The strides we’re making as part of the UK Cite project are creating vital technologies to enable a safer and more efficient road network.”

Cite plans to equip more than 65km of urban roads, dual-carriageways and motorways with combinations of three talking-car technologies, and testing for a fourth, known as LTE-V. The project will establish how these technologies can improve journeys, reduce traffic congestion, and provide entertainment and safety services through better connectivity. The project is expected to take 30 months

“To realise the full benefit of self-driving cars, we need to understand the infrastructure that’s needed to support them,” said Colin Lee, Jaguar Land Rover’s V2X manager. “Connectivity not only takes us a step closer to making this a reality but it also creates the platform to bring a great array of connected safety features to our customers in the near future. We’re working with some fantastic global experts across industry and academia and we’re eager to take the project into this next phase of testing.”

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