Jaguar Land Rover Announces £11m Driverless Car Plan

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The car maker is to collaborate with the EPSRC on developing autonomous car technologies

Jaguar Land Rover has announced an £11 million research programme aiming to solve some of the technical issues surrounding the introduction of driverless automobiles.

The initiative is jointly funded by the car maker and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the government’s main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research.

The research, announced by secretary of state for business Sajid Javid during a visit to Jaguar Land Rover’s Gaydon, Warwickshire manufacturing facility, will see ten universities collaborating with the automobile maker on five projects that were selected following a joint call for research proposals.

Range of projects

jaguar land rover pothole smart carThe projects range from the use of radar and video sensing in autonomous vehicles to ways of predicting and responding to human reactions to driverless cars.

Javid said the research is part of a wider government effort to take a leading role in autonomous car development.

“This £11 million research and development programme and the winning projects are a perfect example of this and will help to keep us at the forefront of the robotics revolution,” he stated.

Jaguar Land Rover said the research is intended to give road users confidence in driverless cars, which have been in testing by the likes of Google and others for several years.

“These collaborative projects will bring some of the UK’s leading academics together with our autonomous driving team to address the fundamental real-world challenges that are part of our journey towards autonomous driving,” said Dr Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology at the automobile maker, in a statement.

Government funding

The government has introduced other measures aimed at facilitating the development and testing of driverless cars, including £100 million of collaborative research funding announced in the Spring Budget 2015, the publication of a Code of Practice that allows the testing of such vehicles on British roads, and the creation of a joint policy unit called the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles that aims to coordinate government activity.

The University of Birmingham, Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh will collaborate on the development of radar and video sensor development, while the University of Southampton and the University of Cambridge are to work on ways that autonomous cars can learn from human driver behaviour. Similarly, Cranfield University and University College London are to collaborate on coordination between human drivers and vehicle controllers.

The University of Surrey, Imperial College London, the University of Warwick and the Transport Research Laboratory are to develop cloud-based distributed control systems for connected driverless cars, and the University of Warwick is to examine how autonomous vehicles can best fit into an environment that includes pedestrians, cyclists and other unpredictable elements such as adverse weather.

Toyota last month made a £33m investment into smart cars and recently joined the ranks of the companies testing driverless vehicles, a list that already includes Google, Ford and others.

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