The advance of driverless cars on public roads has taken a step forward with the announcement that a state-of-the-art robotics technology centre is to be used as a test site for the new technology.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) robotics and technology centre at Culham Science Centre is to become the host for a number of major investments for driverless cars innovation.
One of the main projects is the ‘Driven’ consortium which is being led by driverless car developers Oxbotica and Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (Race).
According to the UKAEA, the Driven project has already received over £8M from the £13M available in funding from the Government’s CCAV (Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles). This funding will go towards developing and operating a fleet of completely autonomous vehicles to operate on public roads within the next two and half years it said.
The technology will be showcased with a fleet of the vehicles making the journey autonomously from London to Oxford – albeit with a safety driver on board.
The team will use the 10km of roads, junctions, roundabouts (even traffic lights and pedestrian crossings) within the closed Culham site, which it says is a perfect ‘test track’ for the vehicles. Their ability to monitor and react to other vehicles, cyclists and people in realistic circumstances, whatever the weather will be tested it said.
Race director Rob Buckingham said: “Driven is important because it will answer questions around cyber security and insurance as well as the underlying technology. Race has a key supporting role: enabling testing on the Culham Science Centre site before we venture on the public roads.
“Driven reinforces our aspiration to enable connected and autonomous vehicles to be widely adopted. Starting in Oxfordshire we are already thinking about how autonomous vehicles fit within a modern transport plans for both Oxford and Didcot Garden Town. Driven is a very important step on this journey.”