News : JLR joins with universities on autonomous research


Heriot-Watt University is part of an £11m research programme working with Jaguar Land Rover on fully autonomous cars. The research, jointly funded by the EPSRC and Jaguar Land Rover, will involve ten UK universities and the Transport Research Laboratory as well as the car manufacturers. It was announced by the Secretary of State for Business, Sajid Javid, during a visit to Jaguar Land Rover’s facility at Gaydon in Warwickshire.

The projects will look into the use of radar and video sensing to interpret the external environment, road conditions and other road users; how drivers will react to new autonomous systems; how systems can be designed to adapt to the personal characteristics of users; investigate how the transition between human control and automated systems can be designed to best effect; how distributed control systems and cloud computing can be integrated with vehicles; and how data from intelligent infrastructure, drivers and automated vehicles can be used to aid interaction.

Dr. Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover, said, ‘To realise the future potential for fully autonomous vehicles, we need to give drivers, pedestrians and other road users the confidence that a car driving around with little or no human input is a safe, viable and rewarding experience. These collaborative projects will bring some of the UK’s leading academics together with our autonomous driving team to address the fundamental real-world challenges that are part of our journey towards autonomous driving.’

Safety and fuel efficiency

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said, ‘Science and engineering research is vital to technological innovation and to keeping UK businesses at the forefront of global markets. This joint investment shows how strategic partnerships between the research councils, universities and business can identify industry’s challenges and build the academic expertise needed to meet them. The universities and partners in these projects will take novel approaches to safely change the way we travel in the future.’

Professor Andrew Wallace from the Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said, ‘Video remains at the heart of the system, but the key second sensor modality is a novel, Terahertz radar system which will be developed at the University of Birmingham that can provide high resolution 3D imagery in all weathers. At Heriot-Watt we shall work with them and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh to combine the radar and, where possible, video data to map the environment and classify other road users and hazards, from pot-holes to articulated lorries, working towards a safer and fuel efficient future.’

Keith Adams

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