Jaguar Land Rover announces UK trials for fleet of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

Leading car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will introduce real-world tests of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) in the UK over the next four years in a bid to reduce congestion, ease driver stress and help prevent road accidents.

A fleet of more than 100 research vehicles will be driven on a new 41-mile test route on motorways around Coventry and Solihull later this year, with initial tests set to involve vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technologies that enable cars to share data with each other and road devices.

The vehicles will include an array of new technology features to assist the driver and making lane changing and crossing junctions easier and safer. It is hoped that the transfer of communications will reduce congestion, allowing the vehicles to spend less time locked in traffic.

A roadwork assist system which uses a forward-facing stereo camera and advanced image processing software has been built to sense when the vehicle is approaching the start of the roadworks, and inform the driver of the ideal path and apply a small amount of steering assistance.

JLR is developing an assistance system to prevent low-speed collisions through the stereo camera, which monitors the area immediately ahead of the vehicle. If objects such as vehicles or walls are detected, the Safe Pullaway system will send a signal to the vehicle brakes which will automatically be applied.

An over the horizon warning will use radio signals to transmit relevant data from vehicle to vehicle to warn autonomous cars of potential hazards and obstacles. This would allow emergency vehicles to send drivers an audible warning along with a visual alert about the direction and speed that it is approaching.

‘The future of driving’

JLR’s announcement provides the latest move from an automotive industry turning to autonomous features to carve out a niche in a swelling market.

Swedish car manufacturer Volvo Cars, for example, has revealed it will be trialling an ambitious autonomous driving (AD) system in the UK next year, representing the “largest and most extensive AD testing programme on Britain’s streets”.

Nissan recently unveiled what it believes is “the future of autonomous driving and zero emissions”. By 2020, Nissan expects to see the autonomous aspect of its vehicles to be deployed worldwide. The company has also revealed that its Qashqai model – under investigation in South Korea for alleged emissions fraud – will be the first model to utilise autonomous technology in the UK.

Journey-sharing commuters

In related news, five new areas of Bristol, including the city’s prominent Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone (BTQEZ) have joined a digital initiative to cut congestion for tens of thousands of workers travelling in and out of the city.

The interactive map-based ‘joinmyjourney’ app allows staff to specify the start and end points of their journey from a designated site via postcode. Users can list their preferred mode of transport to identify potential sharers on the route, helping workers to lower emissions and save money by cutting commuting costs.

Bristol City Council will fund the extension of journey-share scheme to five key areas, including the BTQEZ, while the four other areas to join will be announced later in the year.

Bristol City Council’s Cabinet member for transport Cllr Mark Bradshaw, said: “Bristol’s business community is thriving, and offering sustainable transport plans benefits not only city residents, but can also help to attract new businesses who are passionate about making a positive contribution to tackling congestion and air pollution in Bristol. It’s a rea win-win.”

George Ogleby

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