Driverless vehicles will face a ‘testing’ 200-mile (320km) journey across the UK next year.
The autonomous cars will have to contend with challenges such as winding country lanes, motorways and roundabouts, in an effort to test their systems.
The nationwide test, dubbed HumanDrive initiative, is designed to put the computer-controlled cars through their paces in ‘live traffic and natural conditions’.
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The HumanDrive initiative hopes to put the computer controlled cars through their paces in ‘live traffic and natural conditions’ on a 200-mile (320 km) road test of the driverless cars
The UK wants to get driverless cars on the road by 2021.
However, British roads present a number of unique challenges that autonomous driving systems are unlikely to be prepared for after testing in the United States.
Mark Westwood, chief technology officer at Catapult, another partner of the HumanDrive initiative based in Milton Keynes, said: ‘UK roads throw up some particular challenges.
‘They are different from American roads, with roundabouts and demanding country lanes.
‘These are really testing environments.
‘This project is about advancing the state of the art and trying to do something more demanding. The control system will learn to drive like a human.’
It is currently unknown where exactly the route will pass through or what type of cars will be involved in the trial.
To teach the driverless vehicles to behave like their manned counterparts, highly-trained drivers will be asked to drive in a simulator.
A pair of ex-Google engineers have unveiled a new self-driving car designed to deliver groceries to your home. Start-up Nuro.ai raised £65 million ($92 million) to create a working prototype of its ‘R1’ vehicle (pictured), which the company says will never seat a human inside
Data will be gathered from their time behind the wheel, and fed into the autonomous vehicles.
After this information is fed into the car’s learning systems, the cars will begin safety testing and trials on private tracks.
Mr Westwood said: ‘This pioneering project will considerably enhance the experience of drivers who use future autonomous vehicles.
‘We’ve only just scratched the surface in terms of the capability of machine learning and AI in driving.’
The HumanDrive is an international collaboration between Groupe Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi, Cranfield University and Highways England, and others.
Paul Gadd, head of Automotive at Innovate UK, said of the HumanDrive project: ‘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.
In an effort to keep up with other countries, Chancellor Phillip Hammond last year announced plans to have fully-autonomous cars on UK roads by 2021.
‘Low carbon and self-driving vehicles are the future and they are going to drive forward a global revolution in mobility,’ said UK business and energy secretary, Greg Clark.
California-based company Waymo, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, this week announced plans to buy thousands more self-driving taxis.
Waymo hopes to launch its self-driving taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona later this year.
The technology company has already conducted tests in 25 US cities and recently started to deploy vehicles that have no driver to step in if things go wrong.
Earlier this week, two ex-Google employees unveiled a driverless delivery van that could be on the road by 2022.
The Nuro ‘R1’ van is fitted with panels in its side that open-up via an app to reveal its cargo.
The start-up raised £65 million ($92 million) to create a working prototype of its ‘R1’ vehicle, which the company says will never seat a human inside.
WHAT ARE THE SIX LEVELS OF SELF-DRIVING AUTOMATION?
Level Zero – The full-time performance by the human driver of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even when enhanced by warning or intervention systems.
Level One – A small amount of control is accomplished by the system such as adaptive braking if a car gets too close.
Level Two – The system can control the speed and direction of the car allowing the driver to take their hands off temporarily, but they have to monitor the road at all times and be ready to take over.
Level Three – The driver does not have to monitor the system at all times in some specific cases like on high ways but must be ready to resume control if the system requests.
Level Four – The system can cope will all situations automatically within defined use but it may not be able to cope will all weather or road conditions. System will rely on high definition mapping.
Level Five – Full automation. System can cope with all weather, traffic and lighting conditions. It can go anywhere, at any time in any conditions.
Tesla’s Model 3 Sedan – one of the world’s most advanced road-legal cars with autonomous elements – currently operates at Level Two autonomy. It is equipped for Level Three autonomy, which may be introduced in a future software update