UK-based Project Endeavour is to begin its next phase of autonomous vehicle trials on public roads in Birmingham.
During the trial, Project Endeavour partners will refine local deployment approaches alongside further modeling of Birmingham’s complex road network.
Backed by the UK government, the mobility research project is the UK’s first multi-city demonstration of autonomous vehicle services and capability. The first successful deployment took place in Oxford. After the trials in Birmingham, the project will culminate in a final demonstration at an event in Greenwich, London, this August.
Four Ford Mondeo vehicles fitted with lidar, radar and stereo cameras and integrated with Oxbotica’s autonomy software platform make up the Project Endeavour fleet. The vehicles, capable of Level 4 autonomous driving, will carry out operations across an 8km area covering Lea Hall station, Birmingham International Airport and the city center. A professional safety driver will sit in each Ford Mondeo in case human intervention is required.
The autonomous vehicles will carry out daytime trials in an array of traffic scenarios including roundabouts, traffic lights and junctions in industrial and residential areas. The wide range of operating conditions will be used to demonstrate the capabilities of the Oxbotica software.
Launched in March 2019, the consortium project is designed to accelerate the deployment of autonomous vehicle services across the UK. Its flexible, scalable model aims to make deployment of the technology quicker and more efficient while maintaining high levels of safety.
“Project Endeavour is a one-of-a-kind research project that is allowing us to learn about the challenges of deploying autonomous vehicles in multiple cities across the UK – a key part of being able to deploy services safely and at scale,” commented Graeme Smith, senior vice president at Oxbotica and director of Project Endeavour. “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. There has been a huge amount of enthusiasm from the local authority in the UK’s second-largest city ahead of the deployment. So far, Project Endeavour has been a real collaborative effort, bringing everyone into the discussion: from local authorities to road safety groups, transport providers and, most importantly, the general public.”
Birmingham City Council has said that it is keen to gain further information on how AV services could affect areas with limited connectivity. The council also aims to understand how improving access to employment hubs could create job opportunities and reduce private vehicle usage.