Jaguar Land Rover is a huge asset to the business ecosystem of Greater Birmingham, with just over 42,000 employees and ambitious plans for its cars it really is leading the way in automotive automation.
Last November, Jaguar Land Rover took part in the UK’s first road tests for autonomous and connected vehicles, as part of the £20m UK Autodrive Trials. In these tests, not only did the cars and the roadside infrastructure talk to each other, but it put Coventry on the map as being one of the country’s first to trial self-driving and connected vehicles on its roads, joining just 12 other cities around the world in conducting tests on public roads.
UK Autodrive is a consortium of technology and automotive businesses, local authorities and academic institutions working together on a three-year UK trial of connected and autonomous technologies, before moving out onto closed-off areas of Milton Keynes and Coventry in late 2017. The Autodrive project will culminate in a series of open road trials and demonstrations in both cities in 2018.
The trials explore how future connected and autonomous vehicles can replicate human behaviour and reactions when driving. JLR’s vision is to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real-life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather.
The first round of real-world testing in November took Jaguar Land Rover another step closer to bringing an intelligent vehicle to reality, trials will continue throughout 2018.
We spoke to Imogen Pierce, global technology and innovation press officer for Jaguar Land Rover, about how the trials had gone. She explained that in the vehicles’ first time on public roads, there were many things that happened that they couldn’t have fully anticipated, including students of Coventry University not looking both ways before they crossed the road!
Nick Rogers, executive director of product engineering for JLR explained how excited he was about testing this self-driving project on public roads. Nick added that the complexity of the environment allows JLR to find robust ways to increase road safety in the future by using inputs from multiple sensors, and finding intelligent ways to process the data.
What you may not know about automotive automation is that there are 6 levels as defined by the key standards: [Source: The Journal]
Level 0 (No automation): The human driver controls all aspects of driving – from steering to operating the pedals, monitoring surroundings, navigating, and determining when to signal or manoeuvre. The car may have some automated warning tones and automated emergency braking.
Level 1 (Driver assistance): Vehicles with this level of autonomy, in some driving modes, can handle steering or throttle and braking – but never both. However, the driver must be ready to take over those functions if called upon by the vehicle.
Level 2 (Partial assistance): Vehicles can handle the steering and throttle and braking in some driving modes. The driver has to be alert at all times and ready to take over the control of the vehicle, and is still responsible for monitoring the surroundings, traffic and road conditions.
Level 3 (Conditional assistance): The vehicle can monitor its surroundings, change lanes, and can control the steering, throttle and braking in certain situations, such as on motorways. However, the driver must be ready to take back control of the vehicle when required.
Level 4 (High automation): Can drive themselves with a human driver on board. The car takes control of the starting, steering throttle and braking as well as monitoring its surroundings in a wide range of environments and handling the parking duties. When the conditions are right, the driver can switch the car to autonomous mode then sit back, relax and take their eyes off the road. When the vehicle encounters something that it cannot read or handle it will request the assistance of the driver. However, even if the driver does not intervene and something goes wrong, the car will continue to manoeuvre autonomously.
Level 5 (Full automation): Vehicle needs no human control at all. It doesn’t need to have pedals, or a steering wheel, or even a human on board. The car is fully automated and can do all driving tasks on any road, under any conditions, whether there’s a human on board or not.
You can watch the trials here:
After speaking to Imogen you can imagine we had a lot of questions! When will we see every car being autonomous? In 5, 10, 20 years? Will people own their own cars? What will cars do if they need to make life-saving decisions? How will the legislation work? How will autonomous vehicles change the behaviour of society? Will the cars run people over? What about lorries and vans?
The best way to find out the answers to these and more is by keeping up with JLR’s news account on Twitter here.
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