car driving down country lane road

Driverless car trial to begin on winding, complex UK routes

Image credit: Dreamstime

Driverless cars are set to be put through their paces in an upcoming trial that will see them navigate a complex route through winding UK roads, encompassing country lanes, high-speed roundabouts, A-roads, motorways in live traffic and different environmental conditions.

A 30-month autonomous vehicle project led by Nissan’s European Technical Centre, as a part of Renault-Nissan Alliance research activities, will culminate in the most complex journey yet attempted across the UK without driver input.

As well as navigating the intricate route, the vehicle is set to emulate a natural human driving style, providing an enhanced experience for the occupants as part of the ‘HumanDrive’ project.

The project is seeking to take autonomous technology to the next level in terms of ride comfort and adaptability, covering a number of different UK road scenes with natural road positioning.

The 320km journey is expected to take place in December 2019 prior to rigorous testing regime.

Before being introduced to UK roads, the system will be developed and subjected to numerous trials using a range of facilities, including simulation, hardware in the loop, private test track and small sections of public roads.

“Low carbon and self-driving vehicles are the future and they are going to drive forward a global revolution in mobility. This revolution has the potential to be worth £52bn to our economy by 2035 and the opportunity to be at the forefront of this change is one we cannot afford to miss,” said Greg Clark, business and energy secretary.

“Through our Industrial Strategy and the Automotive Sector Deal investment in the development of driverless technology we are committed to working with industry to seize these opportunities.

“Trailblazing projects like the HumanDrive project will play a vital role helping us deliver on that ambition, with UK businesses and research institutions working with partners from around the world on the disruptive technologies and services of the future.”

Paul Gadd, Head of Automotive at Innovate UK, said: “This is a significant next step in the testing and development of driverless car technologies and highlights how the UK is at the forefront of automotive innovation. The HumanDrive project is a great example of the dynamic collaboration of businesses and organisations supported by the Intelligent Mobility fund.”

Last month, the government started seeking ideas about how to modernise Britain’s road networks to fit the influx of driverless and electric cars that is anticipated in the next few years. 

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