Monthly Archives

September 2016

Project update: September 2016

By | Blog

As we enter a new month, we’re fast approaching the half way mark for the GATEway project which officially kicked off on the 1st October 2015. With interest in the project continuing to grow and the start of trials drawing closer, below are the key developments in the project over the past six months:

1. We opened trial registration
Back in May we opened the door for members of public to register take part in the GATEway project. Since then over 5,000 people have registered for a chance to take part which really demonstrates the enthusiasm and interest in automated vehicles. Some have already had a chance to get involved in different elements of the project, while others are waiting for a chance to ride on the vehicles in the trials, which are due to start late autumn 2016.

2. We started our public engagement activities
In June we kicked-off our pre-trial engagement activities; working with members of the public to learn more about what the public really think about the idea of driverless vehicles. Over the past few months we have hosted a number of workshops in Greenwich to delve deeper into people’s thoughts and feelings towards these next generation of vehicles. Led by the Royal College of Art, these workshops encompass a number of different sets of questions, scenarios and creative activities to enable us to gain an insight into people’s attitudes towards the use of automated vehicles and their operation in cities.

3. We began collecting research data
As well as qualitative data, we have started to collect quantitative information about the public’s perception of automated vehicles via online channels. The University of Greenwich has launched an online questionnaire to understand how people may interact with autonomous vehicles, whilst Commonplace has launched an online heatmap of Greenwich where people can post their comments on where they think driverless vehicles will or won’t work.

4. We started LIDAR mapping the Greenwich environment
To enable safe navigation, each of our GATEway vehicles will be pre-loaded with a detailed 3D ‘map’ of each test environment. These maps are created by human-driven vehicles that survey the test environment and collect data from the same sets of sensors that used by the automated vehicles. In preparation for the trials, Oxbotica’s survey vehicle has been navigating around Greenwich, mapping the environment in varying lighting and weather conditions. This process will continue up until the trials begin later this year. An example of one of the maps created from this process can be found here.

5. We demonstrated autonomous driving in Greenwich
In August we completed 100km of autonomous driving in Greenwich with Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy software. The milestone was completed during a visit from Stephen Mullighan MP, South Australian Transport and Infrastructure Minister as part of pre-trial preparation and was the first demonstration of fully autonomous driving in Greenwich.

6. We completed the first phase of development of our 3D model of Greenwich
One of the trials we’ll be conducting as part of the GATEway project will use TRL’s high fidelity DigiCar driving simulator to investigate how drivers of regular cars respond and adapt their behaviour to the presence of automated vehicles on the roads. To ensure the trials are representative of real-world driving, we have been working with Agility3 to develop a realistic 3D model of the Greenwich peninsula road environment, ready for participant trials late autumn this year. The first phase of this development was completed at the end of August and a sneak preview of the 3D model can be found here.

7. We started development and testing of our trial vehicles
Since the start of the project the team has been busy developing a next generation of fully autonomous and electric vehicles capable of navigating around Greenwich. This involves not only the design and build of the vehicles and the autonomous control software, but also an extensive period of safety testing ahead of official trials in Greenwich. The vehicles for the shuttle trial in Greenwich are being developed by Westfield Sportscars, Oxbotica and Heathrow Enterprises and are now entering the final stage of this process. At the same time, Gobotix have been successfully safety testing their adapted M1 vehicle for remote operation of an autonomous vehicle that has gone into ‘safe’ mode and needs to be moved to a safe position.

8. We completed the first ever wind tunnel test on an autonomous vehicle
As part of our safety testing, we successfully carried out the first ever wind tunnel test on an autonomous vehicle in the UK. The test, conducted by Westfield Sportscars and supported by the Niche Vehicle Network, sought to improve the aerodynamic efficiency and confirm safety of automated shuttles, ahead of our driverless shuttle trials.

And it doesn’t stop there; the next few months promise to be even busier. Members of the GATEway team will be at LCV from the 14th – 15th September along with a GATEway prototype vehicle. We’ll also be speaking at the Driverless Technology Conference in Milton Keynes on the 22nd November.

The GATEway team

World’s first autonomous vehicle wind tunnel test carried out in UK

By | News

The first ever wind tunnel test on an autonomous vehicle has been carried out in the UK. The test, conducted by Westfield Sportscars Ltd. and supported by the Niche Vehicle Network, sought to improve the aerodynamic efficiency and confirm safety of automated shuttles, ahead of driverless trials in London.

The wind tunnel test was carried out as part of the GATEway driverless car project taking place in the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The project, which is led by TRL (the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory), will see trials of fully electric and fully automated shuttles operating in Greenwich, with trials scheduled to commence in 2017.

The autonomous vehicle – a fully electric, driverless shuttle – was tested at three times its normal operating parameters, with the vehicle put through a series of tests, including door operation at different wind speeds and vehicle angles, airflow near battery compartments, air flow underneath the vehicle and also component and sensor wind tests. Data gathered from the tests has been used by Westfield Sportscars and the GATEway project team to improve aerodynamics for the shuttle vehicles and enable the vehicle to operate safely in a variety of different global environments and conditions.

The tests form an important part of the safety case for the shuttles, which are currently undergoing final development and safety testing by GATEway project partners. Results not only ensure the trials are conducted safely, but will inform the ongoing development and implementation of autonomous vehicles in the UK and globally.

Julian Turner, the CEO of Westfield Sportscars Ltd and Programme Director for the build of the GATEway shuttles commented: “The wind tunnel test marks a significant milestone in the path towards fully automated vehicles. Information from the tests will help ensure the vehicles, the environment and the conditions the shuttles will be operating in are safe. It also enables us to set a benchmark for aerodynamic development and validation testing, speeding up the delivery and approval of automated vehicles in the UK.”

Professor Nick Reed, Director at TRL and Technical Lead of the GATEway Project added: “The primary aim of the GATEway project is to understand how the public learn to trust and accept automated vehicles within urban environments. However, one of the biggest barriers to acceptance is safety. The wind tunnel test provides confirmation that the GATEway shuttle vehicles can operate safely in UK weather conditions and will prove critical in proving their roadworthiness for future operation on our roads.”

The GATEway project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is an £8 million project, jointly funded by government and industry and delivered by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. Led by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), which has over 50 years’ of experience in vehicle automation, the project will investigate public perception, reaction and engagement with a range of different types of automated vehicles.

The shuttle trial, one of a number of automated vehicle tests within the GATEway project, will investigate public acceptance of automated shuttle vehicles within the urban mobility landscape. Other trials set to take place in the project include automated delivery trials and remote teleoperation.

GATEway is one of three projects awarded by Innovate UK under its £10m competition entitled ‘Introducing driverless cars to UK roads’. The other two projects include UK Autodrive in Coventry and Milton Keynes, and Venturer in Bristol.