Project update: December 2016

By 21st December 2016Blog

As 2016 draws to a close, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide an update on where we are with the GATEway project.

It has been a busy final few months of the year for the project, which aims to understand and overcome the technical, legal and societal challenges of implementing automated vehicles in an urban environment. Whilst the project largely revolves around the public trials of automated vehicles in Greenwich, we must not forget this is a research project focused not on developing vehicles, but the societal implications of this new technology.

Over the past few months we completed the first phase of the public engagement element of this research, looking at people’s hopes, fears and expectations of driverless vehicles. We invited people from a variety of backgrounds to engage in discussions and help us better understand public attitudes towards this next generation of vehicles. In total, we hosted eight workshops with over a hundred participants, producing thousands of hopes and fears about the future and more than 30 new driverless vehicle concepts. Insight in to some of the top level findings can be found here and a full report will be released once all phases have been completed.

Part of this package of work also included gathering feedback on the idea of driverless vehicles in Greenwich from those that live, work and visit the area. We have had over 500 contributions so far, with 78% of people viewing automated vehicles as a very positive opportunity for Greenwich. If you wish to add your comments, then you can do so here.

We also completed our teleoperation demonstrations, as well as simulator trials to investigate how drivers of regular cars respond and adapt their behaviour in the presence of automated vehicles.  The team of experts at TRL are now working their way through the data collected to analyse the results which will be disseminated accordingly in the New Year.

Those in Greenwich may also have noticed the inclusion of some unfamiliar road markings around the Greenwich Peninsula.  The markings, which will remain in place until the end of the project, were added in preparation of the arrival of ‘Harry’ – our prototype automated vehicle. Harry arrived in Greenwich in November 2016 to begin a final period of onsite validation and testing ahead of public trials. You may have already spotted him running around autonomously in Greenwich; this is part of our final regime of safety evaluation and public trials will only commence once this has been completed. We’ll be providing more information in due course.

Our progress in Greenwich didn’t go unnoticed by government and industry. The team at the Royal College of Art picked up an award for the quality and significance of their GATEway paper submitted to the Universal Design Conference 2016 held in Nagoya Japan. And in November, I gave evidence on behalf of the GATEway Project in the House of Lords inquiry into driverless vehicles, which can be viewed online here. Following the evidence session, members of the Committee also visited the project in Greenwich to see the progress we have made and engaged with a number of different elements of the project, including TRL’s portable driving simulator, MiniDigiSim, Oxbotica’s Geni vehicle and ‘Harry’. A positive and successful end to an exciting year.

Thank you to everyone that has taken part in any of our research activities to-date and for those that are eagerly waiting for the start of the public trials, we thank you for your patience.

Professor Nick Reed

 Academy Director, TRL

Nick is Academy Director at TRL, where he is with responsible for ensuring the technical quality of TRL’s research outputs, for supporting the academic development of TRL staff and for managing TRL’s engagement with stakeholders in industry and academia on programmes of collaborative research.

Nick joined the Human Factors and Simulation group at TRL in January 2004 following post-doctoral work in visual perception at the University of Oxford. He has led a wide variety of studies using the full mission, high fidelity car and truck simulators with a number of published articles, conference papers, and appearances in national and international media. Nick also championed work in the area of vehicle automation at TRL, culminating in his technical leadership of the GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project – a flagship UK Government project to investigate the implications of the introduction of automated vehicles in the urban environment.