Monday, 1 February 2016

Bosch makes bid to join race to autonomy

Bosch is leading the £5.5 million MOVE-UK research project that will help future autonomous vehicles drive naturally like human drivers, rather than like robots.

Other participants include JaguarLandRover (JLR), Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and insurance company Direct Line.

In the three-year research programme, a fleet of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles will be driven daily by employees of the London Borough of Greenwich (another active participant) to establish how a range of different drivers react to real-world driving situations, including heavy traffic, busy junctions, road works and bad weather.

Data from sensors in these cars will reveal the natural driving behaviours and decision-making that drivers make whilst driving, including complex and stressful scenarios. These include giving way at roundabouts and intersections, how drivers ease forward at junctions to enter a flow of traffic, or how they react to an emergency vehicle coming up behind their car whilst in a traffic jam.

The project will also use these data to help develop insurance policies for future autonomous cars. Insurance experts will provide their expertise on the liability of certain scenarios using the real-world driving data supplied by the fleet of test cars.

The UK Government is supporting the MOVE-UK research with a £2.75 million grant from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. This funding for collaborative research is part of the Government’s £100m Connected and Autonomous Vehicles fund.

Dr Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology, JaguarLandRover, said: “To successfully introduce autonomous cars, we actually need to focus more on the driver than ever before. Understanding how drivers react to a range of very dynamic and random situations in the real world is essential if we want drivers to embrace autonomous cars in the future.”

Drivers will need to completely trust the vehicle before they opt-in and engage automated systems.

If an autonomous car can be programmed to have a very similar reaction to a real driver, then the autonomous experience will be more natural, and the driver more likely to allow the car to take control. 

“Customers are much more likely to accept highly-automated and fully autonomous vehicles if the car reacts in the same way as the driver. By understanding and measuring positive driving behaviours we can ensure that an autonomous Jaguar or Land Rover of the future will not simply perform a robotic function,” added Dr Epple.

“Ultimately we want to be able to give drivers the choice of an engaged or autonomous drive.  If drivers have confidence in the automation they will seamlessly flick from one mode to the other. Autonomous mode will help with any challenging, or less stimulating activities on the journey, like parking or driving in heavy traffic. If this automated experience feels natural and safe, the driver will be able to genuinely relax and will be happy to let the car take control,’ he concluded.

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