Loughborough University is to team up with Highway England to ensure that connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) can drive on the country's motorways. The project, named CAVIAR (Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Infrastructure Appraisal Readiness), was announced as the winner in Highway England's innovation and air quality competition last year and has now been awarded £1m from a government fund.
Project CAVIAR will look at operations at roadworks, merging and diverging sections and lane markings to better understand the challenges that CAVs may encounter. The ability of CAVs to operate may not be guaranteed, due to the complexity in the roadway infrastructure. Additionally, weather conditions can affect results.
Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems, Mohammed Quddus, the principal investigator on the project, and also of the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, said: “To date there is significant investment and advancement in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. It is, however, not known whether existing road infrastructure, which was designed for conventional vehicles, is ready for the safe and efficient operations of CAVs. CAVIAR directly addresses this challenge.”
The platform will use real-world data from different lane configurations and ‘teach' the simulation how to respond to different dynamic lane changes. This differs from platforms used by Oxbotica (a branch off Oxford University), which employs images developed by AI to teach autonomous software.
The platform will also try to understand how environmental conditions will affect self-driving cars, especially in conditions with low light or snow.
Government and industry are investing heavily in CAV technology as they compete to attain a competitive advantage in the future market for mobility systems. Paris University has also tested autonomous vehicles, while Hyundai continues to develop its technology.
All we can do now is wait for the results of Loughborough University’s research. It may be that autonomous vehicles still have a long way to safely be deployed on UK roads.