Self-driving cars could be on the streets of Coventry city centre in as little as 18 months. The vehicles will be used as part of a trial which will see the technology tested in the city centre and at the nearby NEC.
Building on Coventry’s history as the UK’s motor city, the scheme heralds a new era of travel. To begin with, a driver will be present in the vehicles but eventually they will be unmanned and monitored completely remotely.
Coventry University is playing a key role in the scheme, which aims to show that this technology can be put to commercial use. It plans to use the vehicles to operate an internal mail service across the university’s city centre locations, with purpose-built self-driving light vans. They’ll be operated from a remote control room using a 5G-based Remote Monitoring and Tele-Operation (RMTO) service.
Kevin Vincent, director of Coventry University’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Automotive Research, said: “We were chosen to take part in this project because it is recognised that we have expertise in studying human factors and in cyber security in the field of self-driving vehicles. Our work on this is all about demonstrating the technology will work in real-world settings and providing that evidence for those who want to further develop self-driving technology. Coventry was the site of some of the UK’s early self-driving trials and we have a history of running safe road trials.”
The project is led by Conigital and Coventry University is one of a number of collaborating organisations involved, including Coventry City Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Warwick Manufacturing Group, dRisk, IPG Automotive UK, Direct Line Group (insurance) and the NEC.
The MACAM Project is just one of a number of projects exploring self-driving technology to recently have been awarded a share of £81million in funding from Government and private industry as part of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Connected and Automated Mobility programme.
Professor Stewart Birrell, Professor of Human Factors for Future Transport at Coventry University, said: “There is a defined legal driver of any vehicle but what we’re doing is taking that person out from behind a steering wheel and putting them in a control room. We want to explore the human factors involved and how control of a vehicle is passed over to an operator at specific points in a journey, for example where there may be a particularly difficult section of a trip that needs negotiating. We want to show this technology works within real-world settings, not just on a test track.”