Flourish driverless car project releases latest findings

Driverless car project Flourish has published its latest research findings into making autonomous vehicles user-friendly.

Autonomous vehicles are set to radically change the landscape of transport. University of Bristol's Professor Robert Piechocki even calls it “the biggest revolution on our roads since the advent of the internal combustion engine.”

Flourish attempts to provide an early glimpse into how this revolution will look and ensure autonomous vehicles are designed with the user in mind.

Tracey Poole, Flourish Project Manager, said:

“Our trials explore what older adults need to be able to interact with CAVs with confidence.

At a technical level, Flourish supports this aspiration by investigating how data can be used to optimise regional transport networks and how to ensure secure communications between autonomous vehicles and the surrounding transport infrastructure.”

The research found older adults want an uncluttered and intuitive user interface for interacting with their cars. Greater trust is achieved when information from the vehicle can be provided in both visual and audio form.

Successful connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) deployments will require significant industry cooperation. Navigation, for example, will require the exchange of sensory data and manoeuvring intentions through Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications.

Ad-hoc networks will need to be created in addition to use of mobile data in order to maintain reliable and ubiquitous connectivity. These networks will need to perform in particularly difficult conditions to ensure a driverless car is as safe up a rural mountain as it is within a city.

In a trial conducted by Flourish, the maximum distance for the successful communication of messages was 472 metres. However, reliability showed a rapid decrease at distances beyond 120 metres.

95 percent of messages were delivered within 778 milliseconds, which Flourish now considers to be the benchmark for evaluating Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) services.

Flourish is funded by Innovate UK with a total budget of £5.5M. The consortium consists of the following partners:

  • Atkins: lead partner providing project management, transport modelling and intelligent mobility expertise;

  • Age UK: a ‘critical friend’ to Flourish supporting the social research elements of the project;

  • Airbus Group Innovations: will provide cyber operations and data fusion expertise;

  • Aiseedo: neural network technology specialists supporting the development of a data fusion engine;

  • AXA: will provide insurance and legal expertise;

  • Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council: will provide on-road trials support and drive local community engagement;

  • Designability: to develop Human Machine Interfaces for use in a vehicular environment;

  • Dynniq: to develop technology for use by connected vehicles and a city-based dashboard for use by network operators;

  • OPM Group: will provide research support relating to user needs and public acceptance;

  • Transport Simulation Systems: to develop a network operations model for modelling CAVs;

  • Transport Systems Catapult: to develop Human Machine Interfaces and provide support for simulated and real-world testing;

  • University of Bristol: lead on dependable wireless communication systems and support real-world testing;

  • University of the West of England: will conduct research into user needs and experiences of CAVs and will be involved in the development of Human Machine Interfaces.

Vehicle trials are conducted in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. The first car trial tested a connected vehicle network and associated technologies in a complex urban environment.

“Future simulator and pod trials will focus on gaining further insights into what older adults need from CAVs, looking at additional HMI features, including voice recognition,” adds Poole. “Future car trials will build on the previous trials to further test the CAV communication network, cooperative services and associated technologies.”

Further information about the Flourish consortium and its work can be found here.

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