Electric and automated vehicle vision no longer distant

The Transport Research Laboratory responds to the announcements of autonomous racing cars and the latest affordable electric vehicle from Tesla.

This week, Tesla has announced its affordable model 3 production car for production starting in late 2017 and the Roborace autonomous car was also released on the public.

Responding to these announcements and the impact that these vehicles will will have on the automotive landscape, the Transport Research Laboratory’s (TRL) head of Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle and ITS Technology, Denis Naberezhnykh considers this to be a clear signal as to the future of automotive mobility.

“Fully electric and automated vehicles (AVs) are no longer considered a distant vision, but are starting to become a reality both on our roads and our race tracks,” he said.

“Electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way since the conception of Formula E. In the past four years, they have gone from being niche, small-scale experimental products to mainstream vehicles that are part of most car manufacturers’ product lines.  With the Tesla Model 3 rumoured to feature semi-autonomous driving capability, this is further evidence of how far the industry has progressed.

“The Roborace prototype vehicle announcement is reminiscent of the first unveiling of the prototype Formula E car. With some road vehicles already boasting ‘autopilot’ functionality today, including the rumoured Tesla Model 3, it’s interesting to consider what road vehicles will be capable of in four years’ time if the pace of AV development reflects what we have seen with EVs.

“While AV and EV technology is developing rapidly, a number of factors must be reviewed and addressed to ensure drivers, the automotive industry and the wider community can safely embrace future developments in these areas and to maximise the benefits they can bring.

“Regulation will need to be updated to ensure vehicles are safe and fit within all relevant regulatory frameworks. Deployment of charging infrastructure will need to be improved, prioritising customer needs, accessibility and convenience over sheer numbers of chargers. And new options for electrifying heavy duty vehicles should be explored to ensure that this crucial part of road transportation is not left behind while the car industry powers ahead.”

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