Project Endeavour concludes with autonomous vehicle passenger rides in London

Multi-city demonstration of autonomous vehicle services ends with public showcase in London using co-ordinated fleet of six vehicles to host passenger rides for first time

Two years after it was first announced and almost 10 months after the first live trials, the UK government-backed Project Endeavour R&D programme to accelerate and scale the adoption of autonomous vehicle services will conclude its multi-city demonstration with a final on-road trial, with free rides for the public, in Greenwich, London.

Launched in March 2019, the project has brought together autonomous software company Oxbotica, urban innovator DG Cities and transport simulation company Immense. Ahead of the first public trial in Oxford in October 2020 – which Project Endeavour said would bring the deployment of commercial autonomous vehicles in the UK closer – three new consortium partners were added to the project: the Transport Research Laboratory, the British Standards Institution and Oxfordshire County Council.

Project Endeavour is part-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, delivered in partnership with Innovate UK. It is part of the government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund, supporting the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge. It has built on the Driven consortium, which demonstrated the capabilities of a fleet of self-driving vehicles in London and Oxfordshire’s challenging and complex urban environment.

After Oxford, trials took place in Birmingham before the upcoming finale in London, where more than 100 members of the public will be able to schedule demonstration rides in Oxbotica vehicles. Consortium partner DG Cities will survey confidence and trust in the technology before and after, in order to analyse perception of autonomous vehicle safety.

A fleet of six Ford Mondeos has been deployed during the demonstration to replicate how an autonomous mobility service may operate in an urban environment. The vehicles, integrated with Oxbotica’s autonomy software platform, will complete a five-mile urban route around Greenwich’s streets, giving partners the opportunity to model the complex and busy network and exposing the vehicle to varied traffic and weather conditions.

The vehicles will be deployed on the monitored and instrumented routes of the TRL-owned and operated Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) testbed in Greenwich, marking the first use of the London connected and automated mobility (CAM) testbed for an autonomous vehicle trial at scale. The vehicles will be housed at SMLL for the duration of the trials, with full access to the leading diagnostic and engineering facilities on site.

Research carried out ahead of the trials revealed that the UK public regards in-vehicle safety and the safety record of the service provider as the two most important considerations when choosing future mobility providers, ranking ahead of cost, cleanliness and availability.

Project Endeavour has applied BSI’s safety case framework specification PAS 1881:2020 Assuring the Safety of Automated Vehicle Trials and Testing, which specifies requirements for operational safety cases for automated vehicle trials and development testing in the UK. Oxbotica is the first company to have had its safety case assessed by BSI against the requirements of PAS 1881:2020. Post-trial data will be studied to understand whether experiencing the technology improves the acceptance of autonomous vehicles.

Transport planners and local authorities are also using the trials to understand how autonomy can fill mobility gaps in urban and rural settings, and how to support communities in accessing the new technology while playing a role in the long-term sustainability of cities.

“The London demonstration concludes the on-road trials phase of Project Endeavour,” said DG Cities managing director Trevor Dorling. “The results of the project will allow the project partners to further advance the deployment of autonomous vehicle services safely and at scale, addressing some of the major transport challenges that cities face today and in the future.

“We are also excited that we are able to offer the public the opportunity to ride in one of the Project Endeavour autonomous vehicles during our trials in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Their feedback will give us valuable insights on how we need to keep adapting both the technology and its deployment in cities in years to come.”

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