Driverless cars will take part in a 30-month trial that will see them drive 320km routes through live traffic and under natural conditions.
The “HumanDrive” trial, led by Nissan’s European Technical Centre as a part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s research activities and has been backed by government.
It will involve the most complex journeys attempted by an autonomous vehicles in the UK, according to the Transport Systems Catapult, a technology research centre overseen by Innovate UK.
As part of the trial, vehicles will have to deal with a variety of driving scenarios, including country roads, high speed roundabouts, A-Roads, motorways in live traffic and different environmental conditions.
Transport Systems Catapult said that the vehicles would emulate natural human driving styles, providing an “enhanced experience for the occupants”.
An artificial driver model, which controls perception and decision making, will be used to pilot the vehicle, operating alongisde the latest artificial intelligence technologies.
Before being introduced to UK roads, the system will be subjected to “robust” testing including on private test track and small sections of public roads.
The team behind the project includes Hitachi and Transport Systems Catapult, which oversaw the first UK test of a driverless vehicle in a public space in 2016. Other partners include Atkins and Highways England.
Highways England executive director for safety, engineering and standards Mike Wilson said: “Highways England sees the potential benefits of greater automation of vehicles to deliver improved safety and increased mobility.
“We will be working closely with our HumanDrive partners on the plans for the on-road testing. We will be taking the research and development of the Nissan vehicle to map how the introduction of such an autonomous vehicle can shape the future of our roads, in terms of safety, emissions, journey times and capacity.”
The project is being jointly funded by government and industry, including a £100M from the Intelligent Mobility fund administered by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV).