Live autonomous vehicle trials move to second city in UK
The UK city of Birmingham is playing host to a live trial of autonomous vehicles under a government-backed project.
Already successfully deployed in the city of Oxford, the Project Edward work sees the arrival of a fleet of four Ford Mondeo vehicles capable of level 4 autonomous driving – which means they are fully autonomous but can only be used in limited spatial areas and still with a driver onboard.
Vehicles are fitted with LiDAR, radar and stereo cameras and integrated with Oxbotica’s autonomy software platform.
The fleet is being operated in a five-mile area around Lea Hall station, between Birmingham International Airport and the city centre, and will be operated through the day for several weeks. This will enable them to experience a range of traffic scenarios and weather conditions. Birmingham City Council will also use the project to explore how autonomous vehicle services could impact areas with limited connectivity, and how improving access to employment hubs could boost job opportunities and reduce private vehicle use.
It’s the latest stage for the consortium project, which is part-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK, supporting work to deploy autonomous vehicle services safely and at scale.
The work is being led by Oxbotica, in collaboration with DG Cities, Immense, TRL, BSI, and Oxfordshire County Council, and will culminate with a final trial in Greenwich in August 2021.
Dr Graeme Smith, senior vice president at Oxbotica and director of Project Endeavour, said: “This stage of the mobility project is a new step for us, as Birmingham hosts our fleet of autonomous vehicles for the first time in real-life environments, and there has been a huge amount of enthusiasm from the local authority in the UK’s second largest city ahead of the deployment.”