AXA XL, along with others, to start testing ”in the next few weeks”

The DRIVEN consortium has announced that, following successful trials in Oxford, autonomous vehicle mapping will be tested in London “in the next few weeks”..

Led by autonomous vehicle software provider, Oxbotica, vehicles will be mapping the streets of Hounslow and are expected to be autonomous by Christmas 2018.

AXA XL and Nominet will be testing the data transfer during the trials, which is expected to run until the summer of 2019.

The trials will start with mapping the streets of Hounslow in west London, selected for being an outer London borough and for being a key link between Oxford and London.

DRIVEN is hoping the tests will provide vital information to back up its plan to run a fleet of autonomous vehicles between Oxford and London in 2019.

What will the testing involve?

Oxbotica will be gathering data to help understand the contents of street signs, and the meanings of lane markings on the road to enable vehicles to be as knowledgeable as a local resident about the complexities of each street.

This process will be repeated several times, and at different points of the day, giving a varied set of results, leading to a better understanding of how the streets change in different lighting conditions, weather and seasons of the year.

The vehicles will be fitted with a wide variety of technology including Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy software, radar, lidar sensors, on board computers and cameras.

The vehicles will still have a safety driver behind the wheel, sitting next to an engineer who will be monitoring the autonomous functions.

Looking beyond

After a grant of £8.6m from Innovate UK, DRIVEN says it wants to look beyond what makes a single car autonomous, instead exploring what could be done in making an entire fleet autonomous.

AXA XL, a division of AXA, will insure the trial. Meanwhile, Nominet will be testing data transfer between vehicles and consortium partners as part of the development of a robust cyber security model for this technology.

Dr Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica said: “Being autonomous before Christmas will showcase the huge amount of work Oxbotica’s expert team of engineers has completed since the DRIVEN consortium was established.

“These trials further demonstrate to the wider UK public that connected and autonomous vehicles will play an important role in the future of transport. This milestone shows the advanced state of our capabilities and firmly keeps us on the road to providing the technology needed to revolutionise road travel.”

Russell Haworth, chief executive of Nominet added: “Our role developing and strengthening the understanding of data flow and security within the backbone infrastructure needed for autonomous vehicles is vital if driverless cars are to become a mainstream reality. This next phase for DRIVEN ensures we are a step closer to achieving that goal as we find solutions and push the boundaries and perceptions of the technology required to make it happen.”