An autonomous vehicle, piloted by artificial intelligence (AI), will drive across the country emulating the style of a human driver at the end of next year as part of a driverless car development programme by a consortium of technology faculties.
The project, named HumanDrive, will send the car across the UK with AI taking control of the steering, braking, speed, road position and decision-making, as well as perception of conditions and features required to fully pilot the car. Before this, however, private testing will take place on test tracks and on public roads (albeit in small sections).
A safety driver, who will intervene in case of emergency, will be in the driver’s seat when the journey is under way. The drive will take place after 30 months of research and development, although the timeframe, location and length of the full test will be determined after this period. The technology, meanwhile, should make it into production vehicles by the mid-2020s.
A human driving style aims to give the public confidence in the car’s abilities. The more human-like the driving style – to the point where the car will be indistinguishable from one driven by a human – the more comfortable the passengers and other road users are expected to be.
HumanDrive has input from the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, Cranfield University, University of Leeds, Highways England, Horiba Mira, SBD Automotive, Atkins and Aimsun.
Mark Westwood, chief technology officer at, UK automotive innovation centre, Transport Systems Catapult, said: “This pioneering project will considerably enhance the experience of drivers who use future autonomous vehicles. We’ve only just scratched the surface in terms of the capability of machine learning and AI in driving.
“The HumanDrive project further reinforces the UK’s commitment to be at the forefront of future mobility and as a world leader in R&D. We are delighted to be working with world-class partners on this project to ensure autonomous vehicle technology provides users with the utmost comfort and control possible.”