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UK universities in £11 million driverless cars project

10 October 2015

Ten UK universities and the Transport Research Laboratory will be working on a new £11 million research programme to develop fully autonomous cars.

The programme, jointly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Jaguar Land Rover, is made up of five new projects, involving ten UK universities and the Transport Research Laboratory. The project was announced by business secretary, Sajid Javid during a visit to Jaguar Land Rover's facility at Gaydon in Warwickshire.

The University of Southampton, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, will lead the Human Interaction: Designing Autonomy in Vehicles (HI:DAV) project to investigate how drivers will react to new autonomous systems.

Using Southampton's driving simulator, which comprises a Jaguar XJ connected to computers with large projectors and screens, the team will test drivers of different ages, gender, experience and capabilities, in a range of scenarios (for example, different road types and environmental conditions) with different automation systems (autonomous driving, auto 'valet' parking, adaptive vehicle personalisation, off-road assistance, and so on) and different interfaces.

The studies will then progress from the simulator to the test-track, as driver and vehicle interaction and interface designs evolve with testing. On the test-track, the physiological and psychological states of driver behaviour will be recorded to see what further changes are needed and whether the automation can be even more highly tailored. As the research progresses, revised designs will be taken into road going vehicles for the final set of tests.

Professor Neville Stanton from the University of Southampton, who is leading the HI:DAV project, says highly automated vehicles are likely to be on public roads within the next ten years. "The largest gap in our understanding of vehicle automation is how drivers will react to this new technology and how best to design the driver-automation interaction," he says.

"This project will answer these questions by studying a wide range of drivers with different driving experience in simulators, or test-tracks and in road going vehicles. This approach aims to personalise the driver interfaces to the widest range of drivers possible so that the system adapts to the driver, rather than the driver having to adapt to the system."

As part of its strategic partnership with Jaguar Land Rover, EPSRC issued a joint call for research proposals that focussed on developing fully autonomous cars Towards Autonomy - Smart and Connected Control. Five projects were selected and Jaguar Land Rover will be leading the collaboration with these successful research groups.

Other universities involved and their respective projects are:
University of Birmingham, Heriot-Watt University, University of Edinburgh (Pervasive low-TeraHz and Video Sensing for Car Autonomy and Driver Assistance); Cranfield University, UCL (Driver-Cognition-Oriented Optimal Control Authority Shifting for Adaptive Automated Driving); University of Surrey, Imperial College London, University of Warwick, Transport Research Laboratory (Secure Cloud-based Distributed Control Systems for Connected Autonomous Cars); University of Warwick (The Cooperative Car).

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