Autonomous vehicles will be tested on roads in Oxford as part of a UK government-backed R&D project.
Project Endeavour will run until autumn 2021 with live tests in three major UK cities. The trials will demonstrate autonomous driving in a variety of urban and city environments with the aim of developing engagement models with local authorities and communities to help them prepare for the future launch of autonomous vehicle services.
A combination of simulations and on-road demonstrations will be used to help accelerate and scale the deployment and adoption of autonomous vehicles by the consortium, which is part-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.
A fleet of six Ford Mondeo vehicles, capable of Level 4 autonomous driving, will complete a nine-mile round trip from Oxford Parkway station to Oxford’s main train station. Trials will be run at all times of day and night, allowing the vehicles to experience a range of traffic scenarios from morning commutes to school runs, in a range of weather conditions.
Launched in September 2019, the project’s members comprise autonomous software company Oxbotica, urban innovation firm DG Cities, transport simulation company Immense. Ahead of the public trials, three new partners have been added to Project Endeavour: the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), the British Standards Institution (BSI) and Oxfordshire County Council.
The new partners will focus on the development of a new safety assurance assessment scheme against PAS 1881 standard for public autonomous trials, and aim to define a consistent approach to safety that will enable future deployments to happen efficiently without slowing down the rate of innovation.
Laura Peacock, manager of Oxfordshire County Council’s Innovation Hub, said: “It is exciting to be part of Project Endeavour. Oxfordshire County Council’s Innovation Hub has been at the forefront of autonomous mobility for the last four years. The progress that has been made in the connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) ecosystem is huge, moving from simulation, trials in isolated environments and now to the first live on-road public trials in Oxford.
“We are working with partners to create a systematic approach for other local authorities to engage and interact with CAV trials in their regions, which brings us much closer to CAV deployments becoming a reality to bring benefit to our communities and UK PLC.”