On Wednesday 15 November, the DRIVEN consortium, of which RACE is a member, was given the chance to showcase its ground-breaking autonomous vehicle technology at 10 Downing Street.
DRIVEN project director Graeme Smith and Professor Paul Newman, Director of the Oxford Robotics Institute, drove one of the specially modified cars to Downing Street and showed Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond the technology behind it all.
This was as part of an event held by the government to launch a series of measures to support the continued growth and success of the UK’s world-class tech sector.
DRIVEN, which is in receipt of an £8.6 million government grant designed to stimulate the development of new technologies, is a project that will see a fleet of ‘Level 4’ autonomous vehicles being deployed in urban areas and on motorways, culminating in multiple end-to-end journeys between London and Oxford in 2019. By operating at Level 4 autonomy a vehicle has the capability of driving itself most of the time without any human input.
Testing of the autonomous software and vehicles is currently underway at RACE’s AV test facility at Culham. During testing, fully licensed and specially trained safety drivers will be in the vehicles at all times, ready and able take over the driving if necessary.
Speaking on the event, Graeme Smith said: “The DRIVEN project is making excellent progress and we are delighted to be able to demonstrate the fruits of our labours for the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. The UK is at the forefront of the autonomous vehicle revolution, which promises to completely change how people travel and could be worth billions to the country in exports and investment.”