Driverless technology has come on leaps and bounds in the past year or so, and what started out on the margins is becoming a point of interest for every major car company. Recently Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to build a fleet of 100 vehicles that will be driven around a dedicated test route in the West Midlands, UK.
The tests will aim to improve the way vehicles can communicate both with each other and with the road infrastructure that will underpin driverless technologies, such as signs and traffic lights.
“Our connected and automated technology could help improve traffic flow, cut congestion and reduce the potential for accidents. We will also improve the driving experience, with drivers able to choose how much support and assistance they need. In traffic, for example, the driver could choose autonomy assist during tedious or stressful parts of the journey,” Tony Harper from JLR says.
Central to the JLR vehicle is its Roadwork Assist technology, which utilizes a number of cameras to generate a three dimensional view of the road ahead. This is used in complex and uncertain environments, such as when the road is being worked on and the car needs to navigate through cones and other road furniture.
The cars also come with technology to assist drivers as they maneuver in traffic jams or out of junctions. The technology hopes to reduce the number of low-speed collisions with it’s Safe Pullaway feature, which uses cameras to monitor the area immediately in front of the car.
Central to the project is what JLR call ‘Over the Horizon’. This involves improvements to vehicle-to-vehicle communication so that cars, and their drivers, can be warned of potential hazards looming on the horizon, such as around a blind bend.
“Over The Horizon will make driving safer and could help prevent traffic jams and accidents. Providing the right information at the right time will enable better and safer decision-making, whether the car is driven by a human or is autonomous,” Harper says.
For instance, if a vehicle is stopped, it would communicate this to other vehicles in the vicinity to ensure that both driver and vehicle are aware of the potential hazard.
I’ve written previously about a partnership between JLR and Coventry City Council to use smart features on vehicles to detect and report potholes. It’s nice to see continuing cooperation between the two groups to help progress driverless technology.
Check out the video below for more information on the project.