A Nissan Leaf has completed the longest autonomous drive in Britain, marking a major milestone in the development of self-driving vehicle technologies.
The test vehicle, which was fitted out with advanced positioning technology in the form of GPS, radar, LIDAR and camera systems, completed the 230-mile ‘Grand Drive’ from Cranfield, Bedfordshire, to Sunderland; a route that included a number of UK unique road environments, such as complex roundabouts and high-speed country lanes with no road markings, white lines or kerbs.
The journey was the culmination of 30 months’ work by the HumanDrive consortium – a team led by Nissan engineers in the UK, working in partnership with consortium members and backed by the UK government.
As part of the project, which is jointly funded through the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and Innovate UK under a £13.5m package, also saw pilot vehicles carry out test track-based activity which explored the use of artificial intelligence systems to enable real-time machine-learning and help the vehicle use the ‘learned experience’ to handle similar scenarios in future.
Business Minister, Nadhim Zahawi said: “Safely completing the longest autonomous drive in Britain is an incredible achievement for Nissan and the HumanDrive consortium, and a huge step towards the rollout of driverless cars on UK streets.
“This project is a shining example of how the automotive industry, working with government, can drive forward technology to benefit people’s mobility – while helping to slash carbon emissions.”
The HumanDrive project also explored advancing cyber security features in autonomous drive vehicles, developing testing and safety methodologies for UK AD testing and investigating the implications of AD vehicles on the wider transport system; all of which will be used to help inform future AD systems.
David Moss, senior vice president for research & development in Europe, Nissan Europe, said: “Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility vision is to develop autonomous drive technologies for use in all of our cars in any area of the world. The door is now open to build on this successful UK research project, as we move towards a future which is more autonomous, more electric, and more connected.”