Oxbotica, the Oxford-based artificial intelligence company that is developing driverless cars for the UK, announced it is leading a consortium of companies that plans to trial a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles in urban areas and on motorways, culminating in a journey from London to Oxford in 2019.
These vehicles will be operating at Level 4 autonomy – meaning they have the capability of performing all safety-critical driving functions and monitoring roadway conditions for an entire trip, with no passengers, said a statement from the DRIVEN consortium.
Besides Oxbotica, other partners in the DRIVEN consortium include re/insurer XL Catlin, Oxford Robotics Institute, Nominet, Telefonica O2 UK, TRL (describing itself as a “centre of excellence for future transport”), the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s RACE, Oxfordshire County Council, Transport for London and Westbourne Communications.
The consortium’s 30-month project plan, which is due to commence this month, seeks to address the following key challenges: communication and data sharing between connected vehicles; insurance modeling for connected and autonomous vehicles; risk profiling, and the cyber security risk caused by this amount of data sharing.
“A key challenge will be how to insure autonomous fleets of vehicles with the consortium planning to develop a system that automatically takes into account data from the vehicle and external sources that surround it, for example, traffic control systems,” said the consortium.
The project will also address data protection and cyber-security concerns raised by international policymakers and law enforcement agencies around the world by defining common security and privacy policies related to connected and autonomous vehicles, the statement added.
A major part of the consortium’s work will include the use of a fleet of six inter-communicating vehicles equipped with Oxbotica’s software, Selenium, which “provides any vehicle it is applied to with an awareness of where it is, what surrounds it and, with that knowledge in hand, how it should move to complete a task,” explained Oxbotica.
Richard Jinks, who leads the project at XL Catlin, said: “Working on this project gives us the opportunity to work with leading external parties to create a risk profiling tool and insurance pricing mechanism which is truly revolutionary.”
“We are seeking to address some of the most fundamental challenges preventing the future commercial deployment of fully autonomous vehicles,” said Dr. Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica.
Professor Paul Newman, head of the Oxford Robotics Institute based at the University of Oxford, and one of Oxbotica’s founders, said: “DRIVEN is the first of its kind and brings a host of new questions surrounding the way these vehicles will communicate with each other. We’re moving from the singleton autonomous vehicle, to fleets of autonomous vehicles – and what’s interesting to us at the Oxford Robotics Institute is what data the vehicles share with one another, when, and why.”
Source: XL Catlin, Oxbotica