Nissan Claims Complex UK 230-Mile AV Test

Nissan is claiming the most complex autonomous drive in the UK to date following its Leaf’s 230-mile drive on town, country and highway roads.

The government backed trial through a Nissan Europe-led technical consortium HumanDrive, claims to have seen the car pilot itself from a university campus in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, to the automaker’s main production plant in Sunderland. The achievement was the culmination of 30 months’ work by the consortium.

One of the key aspects of the project was to develop an advanced, autonomous vehicle control system. The ‘Grand Drive’ saw AV lessons learned put into practice in a range of driving scenarios to negotiate country lanes with no or minimal road markings, junctions, roundabouts and motorways. The autonomous technology activated along the route to change lanes, merge and stop and start when necessary. The consortium is jointly funded by UK government through the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and Innovate UK, and nine other partners. The joint funding package for the project totaled £13.5M ($17M).

One other aspect of the drive was to explore human-like driving using machine learning to enhance the user experience. Test vehicles included Nissan Leafs, featuring GPS, radar, LiDAR and camera technologies that build up a perception of the world around it. Using that perceived world, the system made decisions about how to navigate roads and obstacles it encounters on a journey.

Bob Bateman, project manager for Nissan Technical Centre, Europe, said: “The HumanDrive project allowed us to develop an autonomous vehicle that can tackle challenges encountered on UK roads that are unique to this part of the world, such as complex roundabouts and high-speed country lanes with no road markings, white lines or curbs.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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