Greenwich takes part in driverless car trials

The Royal Borough of Greenwich will take part in trials to collect data from driverless car technology from May.

The Atlas project is one of a number of projects granted £20m of government investment to research and develop communication between vehicles and roadside infrastructure.

The council will help staff at the Transport Research Laboratory’s test site in Greenwich develop and evaluate data services and processes which will be integrated within the local community.

Council leader Denise Hyland said: “Connected and autonomous vehicles have the potential to transform mobility and land use patterns in our cities, and Greenwich is committed to understanding how cities need to respond to support their deployment, and capture the opportunities they can bring.

“This project, supported by Innovate UK, complements the work being undertaken by the Royal Borough of Greenwich on smart city innovation and smart mobility – work that we believe will be significant for all cities in the future.”

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According to the partners, the project is vital to testing the feasibility of maintaining, processing and distributing data.

Other partners in the consortium, which is led by Ordnance Survey, include TRL, Satellite Applications Catapult, Sony Europe Ltd, the Royal Borough of Greenwich and two UK SMEs specialising in autonomous and navigation systems: GOBOTIX and OxTS.

Business secretary Sajid Javid announced funding for the project on 1 February.

Rob Wallis, chief executive at TRL said; “Atlas is an important project for autonomous vehicle development because the success of this work will not only enable safe navigation of these vehicles, but help to transform our transport system and ultimately save lives.

“If we can understand how to safely and securely transfer data between vehicles, then we really can put the UK at the forefront of connected and automated mobility.”

Jeremy Morley, Ordnance Survey’s chief geospatial scientist, said: “Autonomous vehicles will need to find their way reliably and safely through a vast network of streets while interacting with driven and other autonomous vehicles.

“Imagine sections of road – other than motorway – equipped with beacons using the potential of 5G technology and geospatial accuracy to sense ‘unexpected objects’ (a.k.a ‘children and animals’), that may unwittingly stray into the path of an oncoming autonomous vehicle.”

He said data could help to adjust a car’s tyre pressure depending on road conditions, open cats eyes when drivers pass and report on fuel efficiency.

In October, Greenwich launched a Smart City initiative to collect and integrate data better to understand and model the impact of changes on the built environment and the public.

Colin Marrs

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