Andy Pye looks at the latest road testing schemes being set up to test autonomous vehicles, while others are focusing on electric and hybrid vehicle testing.
A consortium led by Bosch aims to help position the UK as a world leader in automated and self-driving cars. Bosch is taking a commanding role in the MOVE_UK project, which benefits from a £5.5 million grant awarded by InnovateUK and will see driverless technology trialled in real world conditions on roads in Greenwich, London.
The UK project partners include Bosch, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), Jaguar Land Rover, Direct Line Group, The Floow and the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Together, the partners will see MOVE_UK accelerate the entry of automated, driverless car technologies to the UK market. The project will increase the rate of development and testing of these technologies at a lower cost to vehicle manufacturers.
Automated technology in cars is expected to help prevent accidents as well as reduce congestion and emissions in cities. However, automated driving is highly complex and requires a large amount of data, which needs extensive validation to ensure that systems respond to a wide range of real world driving situations.
During the three-year MOVE_UK project, driverless systems will be tested in the real world, providing large amounts of data that will be used to develop and improve the technology. This data will enable the development of new and faster ways of improving and demonstrating the safety of automated driving systems.
The information can provide smart cities with new ways to improve services for residents and look after the environment. It will also help the UK automotive industry understand how data from cars can be processed to benefit drivers, providing a real insight into how driverless technologies will change automotive businesses in the future.
Bosch, together with Jaguar Land Rover, will provide vehicles, technology and state-of-the-art design expertise to the project.
Arun Srinivasan, Head of UK Automotive Division with Bosch Original Equipment, commented: “We are excited to be the lead-partner of such a ground-breaking project. The use of Bosch technology will help to speed up the launch of automated driving technologies, making the vision of injury and accident free driving a reality for everyone.”
Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “To successfully introduce autonomous cars, we actually need to focus more on the driver than ever before. Understanding how drivers react to a range of very dynamic and random situations in the real world is essential if we want drivers to embrace autonomous cars in the future.”
TRL will house and process the data captured, providing essential insight for future tests and informing any regulatory changes that will need to be made.
CAV test corridor
Jaguar and Land Rover is investing in a 41 mile ‘living laboratory’ project on UK roads to develop new Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technologies. The new CAV test corridor, which includes 41 miles of roads around Coventry and Solihull, will be used to evaluate new systems in real-world driving conditions.
The £5.5m ‘UK-CITE’ (UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment) project will create the first test route capable of testing both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems on public roads in the UK. New roadside communications equipment will be installed along the route during the three year project to enable the testing of a fleet of up to 100 connected and highly automated cars, including five Jaguar Land Rover research vehicles.
This fleet will test a range of different communication technologies that could share information at very high speeds between cars, and between cars and roadside infrastructure, including traffic lights and overhead gantries.
The UK Government’s support for the UK-CITE research is a £3.41 million grant from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. This funding for collaborative research is part of the Government’s £100m Connected and Autonomous Vehicles fund.
Epple said: “This real-life laboratory will allow Jaguar Land Rover’s research team and project partners to test new connected and autonomous vehicle technologies on five different types of roads and junctions. Similar research corridors already exist in other parts of Europe so this test route is exactly the sort of innovative infrastructure the UK needs to compete globally.
“The connected and autonomous vehicle features we will be testing will improve road safety, enhance the driving experience, reduce the potential for traffic jams and improve traffic flow. These technologies will also help us meet the increasing customer demand for connected services whilst on the move.”
Connected technologies are key enablers for future Intelligent Transport Systems. These would help traffic authorities monitor and manage traffic flow by capturing data from all connected vehicles and then provide the driver or autonomous car with guidance to optimise the journey.
To improve traffic flow, connected cars could co-operate and work together to make lane changing and exiting from junctions more efficient and safer. Technologies like Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC) would enable vehicles to autonomously follow each other in close formation, known as platooning, making driving safer and ensuring road space is used more efficiently.
Over the horizon warnings
In the future, warning messages that are today flashed onto an overhead gantry above a road could be sent directly to the dashboard – and repeated if necessary. This would have the potential to eventually replace the overhead gantry, which each cost around £1m to install.
The Jaguar Land Rover research team will be real-world testing a range of ‘Over the Horizon’ warning systems. As well as warning drivers, these would inform future autonomous vehicles, helping them react and respond to hazards and changing traffic conditions automatically.
Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Emergency Vehicle Warning’ system would identify that a connected ambulance, fire engine or police car is approaching through car-to-car communication. The driver would then receive a warning, long before flashing lights and sirens are audible or visible.
More investment in electrified vehicles
Ford has secured a California autonomous vehicle driving permit to begin testing the fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid on public roads next year. Ford now has one of the largest automotive research centres in Silicon Valley with more than 100 engineers and scientists at its Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto. The new research lab opened in January, expanding Ford’s presence in Silicon Valley, which dates back to 2012.
The California Autonomous Vehicle Testing Program is part of Ford’s 10-year autonomous vehicle development programme and a key element of Ford Smart Mobility, the plan to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.
“Our Palo Alto team has grown significantly this year, using research and innovation to explore and develop future mobility systems,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO. “We’re attracting top talent from around the world to join our team in Silicon Valley, including employees from local technology companies and universities who want to make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves.”
Research that has been conducted there this past year includes:
* Autonomous vehicle virtual test drive: This study allows virtual interaction between an autonomous car and pedestrians, replicating real-world situations to better understand and develop responses
* Sensor fusion: Sensors on autonomous vehicles detect and track objects in the vehicle’s view, combing information together to provide a 360-degree view of the car’s surroundings – including street signs, other vehicles and pedestrians
* Camera-based pedestrian detection: Camera sensors serve as the eyes of a vehicle, allowing the car to “see” pedestrians
* Data-driven health care: Through data collection from Ranger pickups and motorcycles fitted with OpenXC technology, Ford is working with Riders for Health to collect GPS data and mapping coordinates to make health care, vaccines and medication delivery to people throughout rural Africa more efficient and accessible
Ford has also developed relationships with top universities this year, including University of California-Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, Santa Clara and San Jose State. The company is further expanding its strategic research collaboration with Stanford in 2016, planning 13 projects covering all five areas of Ford Smart Mobility – more than double the number of collaborations this year.
In addition, Ford is investing an additional $4.5 billion in electrified vehicles by 2020, including a new Focus Electric with all-new DC fast-charge capability, which delivers 80% charge in an estimated 30 minutes – an estimated two hours faster than today’s Focus Electric – and a projected 100-mile range. The company is adding 13 new electrified vehicles by 2020, by which time more than 40% of Ford’s nameplates globally will be electrified.
Ford is expanding its electrified vehicle research and development programme in Europe and Asia this year, creating a “hub and spoke” system that allows the global team to further accelerate battery technology and take advantage of market specific opportunities. Next year, Ford is doubling the number of projects that use this type of ethnographic research.
Winter tyre test centre
Test World, Millbrook Group’s winter test facility in Finland has signed a 10 year deal with South Korean tire manufacturer, Hankook. The new test centre will be built close to the Test World’s Mellatracks in Ivalo and will be for Hankook’s exclusive use.
Based in Ivalo, Northern Finland, Test World specialises in vehicle and tyre testing in winter conditions. The team in Lapland are experts at preparing snow and ice tracks for repeatable testing and at performing development and type approval tests on tyres. The innovative indoor facilities make testing on natural snow available twelve months of the year.
According to Millbrook Group CEO Alex Burns, Hankook Tire’s investment in the world’s most northerly winter proving ground area has been made partly also due to the increasingly varying conditions and the uncertain winter in more southerly Scandinavian or Alpine areas these days. Ivalo’s location offers very stable and long winter conditions which extends the time available for testing.
Meanwhile, Millbrook has taken delivery of a third new Portable Emissions Measurement System (PEMS). This means that Millbrook now has the latest level systems from each of the major PEMS manufacturers, which will increase its capacity at a time when it is expecting significant growth in RDE testing.
As well as full gaseous measurements of CO, NOx, NO, NO2, CO2 and O2, the latest systems have a Particle Number (PN) unit. The PN unit is a clone of the system on trial by the European Commission to evaluate the parameters required to reliably and accurately measure PN emitted from vehicle exhausts.
Virtual prototyping of child car seats
Virtual prototyping pioneer ESI Group has signed a strategic partnership with JMDA, the child car seat design and development specialist. JMDA and ESI are joining forces to combine child car seat design and Virtual Prototyping, using ESI’s Virtual Seat Solution so that proposed designs can be virtually tested to gain information about expected product performance and regulatory compliance before committing to major investments. The seat and its restraint system can be optimised early on in the design phase, while reducing product development and manufacturing costs. The approach also accelerates the product certification process.