A live trial of six autonomous Ford Mondeo vehicles is set to begin this week in Oxford.
The Government-backed R&D project Project Endeavour will run until Autumn 2021 with live tests in three major UK cities.
The trials aim to demonstrate autonomous driving in a variety of urban environments and will develop engagement models with councils and communities to help them prepare for the future launch of autonomous vehicle services.
The consortium, part-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK, is using a combination of advanced simulations and on-road demonstrations to help accelerate and scale the deployment and adoption of autonomous vehicles.
For the upcoming Oxford trial, a fleet of six Ford Mondeo vehicles, enabled by Oxbotica to be capable of Level 4 autonomous driving, will complete a nine-mile round trip from Oxford Parkway station to Oxford’s main train station.
Trials will be run at all times of day and night, allowing Oxbotica’s autonomous vehicles to experience a range of traffic scenarios from morning commutes to school runs, in a range of weather conditions.
Launched in September 2019, Project Endeavour has brought together Oxbotica, a global leader in autonomous software, urban innovators DG Cities and Immense, a leading transport simulation company. Ahead of the public trials, three new consortium partners have been added to the project: the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), the British Standards Institution (BSI) and Oxfordshire County Council.
The trio of new partners will focus on the development of a new safety assurance assessment scheme against PAS 1881 standard for public autonomous trials, helping to define a consistent approach to safety that will enable future deployments to happen efficiently without slowing down the rate of innovation.
‘Trials of Level 4 vehicles are an important milestone, keeping the UK at the head of the field in bringing the benefits of this technology into mainstream use,’ said Camilla Fowler, head of automation at TRL.
‘These exciting trials, and what we learn about assuring safety and encouraging interoperability will open up new opportunities for many more research demonstrations across the UK, which are the forerunners to the full-scale public trials so eagerly awaited.’
Laura Peacock, innovation hub manager at Oxfordshire County Council, commented: ‘It is exciting to be part of Project Endeavour. Oxfordshire County Council’s Innovation Hub has been at the forefront of autonomous mobility for the last four years.
‘The progress that has been made in the Connected Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) ecosystem is huge, moving from simulation, trials in isolated environments and now to the first live on-road public trials in Oxford. We are working with partners to create a systematic approach for other local authorities to engage and interact with CAV trials in their regions, which brings us much closer to CAV deployments becoming a reality to bring benefit to our communities and UK PLC.’