Jaguar Land Rover will begin real world testing of connected autonomous vehicles this year. The OEM plans to create a fleet of more than 100 research vehicles over the next four years, to develop and test a wide range of connected and autonomous technologies. The first research car will be driven on a new 65km test route on motorways and urban roads around Coventry and Solihull in the UK.
The initial tests will involve vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications systems that allow cars to talk to each other and roadside signs, overhead gantries and traffic lights.
It’s hoped that in the future V2V and V2X systems will allow data sharing between vehicles meaning connected cars could assist the driver, making lane changing and crossing junctions easier and safer for example.
Jaguar Land Rover’s head of research, Tony Harper said: “Our connected and automated technology could help improve traffic flow, cut congestion and reduce the potential for accidents. We will also improve the driving experience, with drivers able to choose how much support and assistance they need. In traffic, for example, the driver could choose autonomy assist during tedious or stressful parts of the journey.
JLR has developed three systems so far: roadwork assist, safe pull away, an over the horizon warning and an emergency vehicle warning.
Roadwork assist uses a forward-facing stereo camera to generate a 3D view of the road ahead and together with image processing software, can recognise cones and barriers. The system will sense when the vehicle is approaching the start of roadworks, identify an ideal path through complicated construction sites and contraflows, and inform the driver that the road is narrowing ahead. The system will then apply a small amount of steering assistance to the wheel to help the driver remain centred in lane.
Harper said: “Driving through congested roadworks can be a stressful experience for many people – especially when the lanes narrow and switch to the other side of the road, or if road markings are faint, obscured or missing. To overcome this, our prototype system will guide the vehicle to the centre of the narrow lane, reducing driver workload and stress. With further research, in the future this system could enable the car to drive autonomously through roadworks.”
The firm’s safe pull away helps prevents low speed collisions. Again it uses the stereo camera to monitor the area immediately in front of the vehicle. If objects such as vehicles or walls are detected, and the system receives signals from throttle pedal activation or from gear selection that could lead to a collision, the vehicle brakes are automatically applied and the driver receives an audible warning.
The final technology, the over the horizon warning is part of a research project testing devices that use radio signals to transmit relevant data from vehicle to vehicle. The idea behind the system is that if vehicles are able to communicate independently, drivers and autonomous cars could be warned of hazards and obstacles over the horizon or around blind bends.
“Over the horizon will make driving safer and could help prevent traffic jams and accidents. Providing the right information at the right time will enable better and safer decision-making, whether the car is driven by a human or is autonomous,” said Harper.
A similar principle is used for the firm’s emergency vehicle warning which allows connected ambulances, police cars or fire engines to communicate with other vehicles on the road: a device in the emergency vehicle broadcasts that it is approaching before the driver sees or hears flashing lights and sirens.
Drivers would receive an audible warning along with a visual alert telling them the direction the emergency vehicle is coming from and how far away it is: they can then safely pull over and allow the emergency vehicle to pass, which will minimise delays for the emergency services and prevent accidents.
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