April 20, 2018

UK’s largest connected and autonomous vehicle project tackles city centre parking

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An Arup-led UK trial of connected and autonomous vehicle technology has been demonstrating how parking difficulties could soon be a thing of the past.

The UK Autodrive project has been using public roads and car parks in Milton Keynes to show how connected and autonomous vehicles could make the search for parking spaces much easier in future.

Project partners Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) have demonstrated how cars can communicate with each other to notify drivers of available parking spaces – without the need for any additional parking bay sensors.

Jaguar Land Rover has also used the occasion to showcase its latest self-driving vehicle technology, demonstrating another future parking solution, with the vehicle successfully driving itself to an available car park bay before parking itself.

Tim Armitage, Arup’s UK autodrive project director, said: “Connected and autonomous vehicles are expected to bring a large number of social benefits, from improved road safety to an easing of traffic congestion, but the possible benefits in terms of parking should also not be overlooked. As well as making parking less of a hassle for individuals, more efficient ways of parking could allow cities to radically redefine their use of space in the future – with far less land potentially needed for parking spaces in city centres once we get to the point where cars can go off and park themselves.”

In times of heavy traffic congestion, it has been estimated that up to 30% of that traffic consists of vehicles looking for parking spaces. The technology being trialled as part of the UK Autodrive project is intended to take the guesswork out of finding spaces by sending information about available spaces directly to connected or autonomous cars.

As well as demonstrating potential future parking solutions, the three car manufacturers also carried out their first public road trials of two connected car safety features.

The first involved an Emergency Vehicle Warning (EVW) system, which alerts drivers when an emergency vehicle is approaching and also indicates which direction it is coming from.

The second trial demonstrated an Electronic Emergency Brake Light (EEBL) feature which gives a warning when another connected car further up the road brakes heavily – potentially giving drivers several additional seconds to avoid a possible collision.

In addition to trialling connected and autonomous road-based vehicles, the UK Autodrive project is due to trial a fleet of up to 40 low-speed self-driving ‘pod’ vehicles in pedestrianised areas of Milton Keynes over the summer. A final set of UK Autodrive demonstrations, involving both types of vehicle, is then scheduled to be held in the autumn, in the project’s two host cities of Milton Keynes and Coventry.

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