A self-driving car has completed a 230-mile journey on UK roads, negotiating country lanes with no or minimal road markings, junctions, roundabouts and motorways.
It was carried out by a British-based research project, HumanDrive, which is jointly funded by UK government through the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and Innovate UK, and nine other consortium partners. The joint funding package for the project totalled £13.5m.
The test vehicles included Nissan Leafs, featuring GPS, radar, LIDAR and camera technologies that build up a perception of the world around them. Using that perceived world, the system can make decisions about how to navigate roads and obstacles it encounters on a journey.
During the journey an engineer was in the car, behind the steering wheel, ready to take control if required.
Bob Bateman, project manager for Nissan Technical Centre, Europe, said: “The HumanDrive project allowed us to develop an autonomous vehicle that can tackle challenges encountered on UK roads that are unique to this part of the world, such as complex roundabouts and high-speed country lanes with no road markings, white lines or kerbs.”
A second part of the HumanDrive project involved the use of machine-learning Artificial Intelligence technologies. Pilot vehicles tested on private tracks used artificial intelligence systems, which enable real-time machine-learning. By building a dataset of previously encountered traffic scenarios and solutions, it can use this learned experience to handle similar scenarios in future and plot a safe route around an obstacle.
Business minister Nadhim Zahawi commented: “Safely completing the longest autonomous drive in Britain is an incredible achievement for Nissan and the HumanDrive consortium, and a huge step towards the rollout of driverless cars on UK streets.
“This project is a shining example of how the automotive industry, working with government, can drive forward technology to benefit people’s mobility - while helping to slash carbon emissions.”
Future of Transport Minister, George Freeman said: “The UK is fast becoming a leader in intelligent and automated vehicle and traffic management technology, a huge global sector set to create thousands of jobs.
“Our Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy is supporting transport innovation for cleaner, greener and smarter transport, and Nissan’s successful HumanDrive project is an exciting example of how the next phase of the UK’s transport revolution could look.”