Driverless Safety Tests in England, Following Calls for Better Infrastructure

A £3.9M project to develop an AI-based simulation model for testing autonomous car safety is being developed in Oxfordshire, west of London, England.

The testing is taking place across a 20-mile circuit of roads, including rural and urban environments, main roads and intersections. The simulation, titled OmniCAV, aims to explore and regulate different scenarios in which connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) can be tested safely and will support certification bodies, insurers and manufacturers.

This project follows the publication of a report from the UK’s CBI calling for the government to expedite development of the country’s road infrastructure in a way that does not leave some regions better served than others. It claims “the complexity of infrastructure decision-making and a lack of transparency around how investment decisions are made are putting the promise of greater connectivity at risk”. The body wants sub-national transport bodies (STBs) established for south western and eastern England, two regions it views as being under-represented. It’s also calling for an infrastructure committee to be established and staffed by civil servants from across the governmental departments with the aim of “better coordinat[ing] infrastructure planning, decision-making and delivery”.

CBI chief UK policy director Matthew Fell hit out at the government for having allowed the country’s infrastructure to degenerate into an uneven “patchwork quilt”. He then claimed “world-beating regional infrastructure” would make the UK “the envy of our competitors”, and “business and transport organizations will be the first to work with the government to achieve this”.

One of the bodies taking part in OmniCAV is the Ordnance Survey (OS) national mapping agency. It’s said that its role in the project is to “lead the capture, processing and serving of geo-spatial high-resolution mapping data. This will include 3D geometry and information about the roadside assets and their characteristics, so that data standards and requirements can be developed for the real-world deployment and operation of CAVs.” It also says it plans to use the experience it claims to have gained from participation in Atlas and E-CAVE, two ongoing CAV-focused infrastructure development programs from the UK government.

The government has allocated £12.1M of public funds to the deployment and development of CAVs, and £2.7M of that is to be spent on OmniCAV. Aside from OS, the other organizations participating in the project are Latent Logic, Aimsun, Arcadis Consulting, Arrival, EUI, Thatcham Research, Oxfordshire County Council, the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the University of Warwick and XPI Simulation.

 


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