Driven Consortium Tests Connected Fleet Vehicles in UK

The Driven consortium held a public demonstration showcasing two Fords in its fleet, which use an array of Lidar sensors, onboard computers, cameras, and autonomy and fleet tracking software to talk to each other on the road.

The white and blue 2014 Fusion Titanium hybrid and a 2017 Mondeo hybrid were able to navigate the site autonomously while encountering pedestrians, cyclists and other traffic.

The UK-based organization already has urban trials underway around the streets of Oxford, and by the third quarter of 2018 the Driven consortium says its fleet will be six-strong.

The organization also announced wider-area road testing of the fleet was due to start in late-summer 2018 through a range of environments, including low-speed urban and higher speed long distance motorway driving.

“This public trial demonstrates that our technology is able to share data and information that vehicles are then able to use to plot more effective routes, avoid potential hazards, and anticipate conditions more effectively,” Driven project director and Oxbotica CEO Dr. Graeme Smith wrote in a statement.

The Driven vehicles run on Oxbotica’s cloud-based fleet management system, Caesium, which schedules and co-ordinates the fleet of autonomous cars.

Selenium is Oxbotica’s autonomous control system, a vehicle-independent operating system that uses the knowledge of where it is in the world, together with local information about the environment around the vehicle, to determine a safe path and velocity to move the vehicle towards its destination.

He predicted the ability for vehicles to talk in real time would have huge implications on the way autonomous vehicles will operate, improving safety, efficiency and productivity.

It’s not just about autonomous cars, it’s about fleets of autonomous cars, and how those fleets can operate, always with an eye on what’s the safest thing they can do, Smith explains in a short YouTube video.

The Driven project, supported by a UK government grant worth $12 million, aims to deploy Level 4 autonomous vehicles in areas and on motorways, ending with multiple end-to-end journeys between London and Oxford in 2019.

Level 4 autonomous vehicles are “fully autonomous,” designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip.

However, this is limited to the operational design domain (ODD) of the vehicle, which means not every driving scenario is covered — that’s a Level 5 ability.

In addition, the consortium plans to have developed a risk assessment tool by 2019 that automatically processes a range of data from both the vehicle and external sources that surround it, such as traffic control systems.

That tool will enable the user of the autonomous vehicle to make decisions about what level of autonomy and speed is appropriate for a wide set of driving conditions.

Among the members of the consortium are global communications firm Telefónica and the nonprofit UK-based domain name registry Nominet.

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