Trail of driverless vehicle fleet set to take place between London and Oxford

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Artificial Intelligence company Oxbotica plans to further cement the UK’s place as a world leader when it comes to developing autonomous vehicles by leading the DRIVEN consortium. The project will benefit from a £8.6 million grant awarded by innovate UK aims to see a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles being deployed in both urban areas and on motorways. This will culminate in an end-to-end journey from London to Oxford and the vehicles will be operating at Level 4 autonomy, meaning that they are able to perform all safety-critical driving functions with zero-passenger occupancy.  This will be the first connected and autonomous vehicle trial at this level of complexity to ever be trailed.

The 30-month project plan began in April 2017 and seeks to remove fundamental barriers to real-world commercial deployment of autonomous vehicles. The consortium will tackle communication and data sharing between connected vehicles as well as Connected and Autonomous Vehicles insurance modelling, covering risk profiling and the new cybersecurity challenges that this amount of data sharing will bring.

Chief executive of Oxbotica, Dr Graeme Smith, says: “No company, group or consortium of autonomy experts has ever attempted what DRIVEN is planning over the next 30-months. We are seeking to address some of the most fundamental challenges preventing the future commercial deployment of fully autonomous vehicles. I have full confidence in DRIVEN’s world-leading and internationally respected team of specialists to deliver this project.”

Also, working alongside Oxbotica to make this work, is the Oxford Robotics Institute, re/insurer XL Catlin, Nominet, Telefonica O2 UK, Transport Research Laboratory, the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s RACE, Oxfordshire County Council, Transport for London and Westbourne Communications.

Professor Paul Newman, head of the Oxford Robotics Institute based at the University of Oxford, and one of Oxbotica’s founders, also commented on the work DRIVEN is set to do, noting that it is “the first of its kind and brings a host of new questions surrounding the way these vehicles will communicate with each other. We’re moving from the singleton autonomous vehicle, to fleets of autonomous vehicles – and what’s interesting to us at the Oxford Robotics Institute is what data the vehicles share with one another, when, and why.”

Richard Jinks, who leads the project at XL Catlin, has said: “Working on this project gives us the opportunity to work with leading external parties to create a risk profiling tool and insurance pricing mechanism which is truly revolutionary.”