Jaguar Land Rover to start testing self-driving car technology

A fleet of connected and autonomous research vehicles will take to the roads around Coventry and Solihull later this year.

By Matt Burt, Autocar UK calendar 13 Jul 2016 Views icon3668 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Jaguar Land Rover will start testing connected and self-driving vehicle technology on a 41-mile test route in the Midlands before the end of this year.

The British car company plans to increase its test fleet to more than 100 research vehicles over the next four years. Back in February JLR revealed plans for a 41-mile real-world ‘living laboratory’ on motorways and urban roads around Coventry and Solihull.

The initial tests will involve vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technologies that will allow cars to ‘talk’ to each other and roadside signs, overhead gantries and traffic lights.

Ultimately, data sharing between vehicles would allow future connected cars to co-operate and work together to assist the driver and make lane changing and crossing junctions easier and safer.

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.

“But even when an enthusiastic driver is fully focused on enjoying the thrill of the open road, the new technology we are creating will still be working in the background to help keep them safe.

“Because the intelligent car will always be alert and is never distracted, it could guide you through road works and prevent accidents. If you are a keen driver, imagine being able to receive a warning that there’s a hazard out of sight or around a blind bend. Whether it’s a badly parked car or an ambulance heading your way, you could slow down, pass the hazard without fuss and continue on your journey.”

Roadwork assist

This system uses a forward-facing stereo camera to generate a 3D view of the road ahead and together with advanced image processing software, it can recognise cones and barriers and identify a path through them. The system will then apply a small amount of steering assistance to the wheel to help the driver remain centred in lane.

roadworks-02

Harper said: “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.”

Safe pullaway

Utilises the stereo camera to monitor the area immediately in front of the vehicle and prevents drivers from low-speed collisions, such as those caused by getting too close to the vehicle in front in traffic jams or when entering junctions. 

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.

Over the horizon warning

Part of a research project testing devices that use radio signals to transmit relevant data from vehicle to vehicle. If vehicles were able to communicate independently, drivers and autonomous cars could be warned of hazards and obstacles over the horizon or around blind bends.

If a vehicle has slowed or stopped, and poses a risk to other motorists, it would send a ‘Hazard Ahead’ warning to nearby vehicles. Approaching vehicles will then receive a visual and audible warning, informing the driver of the hazard.

A related system, emergency vehicle warning, allows connected ambulances, police cars or fire engines to communicate with other vehicles on the road, giving drivers more time to react.

JLR stresses that its new technology is in the first instance focused on reducing driver stress and helping prevent accidents. Yesterday the company revealed that it is working on all-terrain autonomous driving capability for its vehicles.

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