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New £1m research project to ready UK’s motorways for driverless cars

A new £1m project that will ensure the UK’s roads will be able to accommodate self-driving vehicles is now underway with the help of Loughborough University and Highways England.

The CAVIAR project will look at our road infrastructure to understand the challenges CAVs may face

While there has been significant investment and advancement in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) to date, the organisations say it’s not known whether our existing road infrastructure, which was designed for conventional vehicles, is ready for the safe and efficient operations of CAVs.

The project, named CAVIAR (Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Infrastructure Appraisal Readiness), will address this, looking at operations at roadworks, merging and diverging sections and lane markings to understand the challenges CAVs may face. A test vehicle will be fitted out with a variety of sensor, including lidar, radars, cameras, GPS, and V2X communication facility, to collect real-world motorway operational data. This data will then be integrated with MIDAS (Motorway Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling) data to validate and verify the simulation platform in evaluating different aspects of CAV infrastructure readiness.

Loughborough University’s Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems, Mohammed Quddus, the principal investigator on the project, and also of the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering (ABCE) said: “Our vision is to deliver a world-leading experimental and simulated platform for assessing motorway infrastructure readiness level for CAV operations underpinned by the sciences of AI, statistics, optimisation and verification.”

The scheme is being carried out after taking first place in Highways England’s innovation and air quality competition last year; it was subsequently awarded £1m from its innovation and modernisation designated fund.

Construction company Galliford Try is also involved in the project.

Jon de Souza, of Galliford Try, said the project would significantly further the firm’s understanding of the implications for highway infrastructure on a future increase in the quantity of connected and autonomous vehicles on the Strategic Road Network.

“The recommendations from CAVIAR will support contractors such as Galliford Try to improve their offer as well as supporting highways operators to make better long-term capital and operational investment decisions,” he added.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.