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Jaguar Land Rover will test self-driving cars in the UK

Cars to use 40-mile stretch of road to test future connectivity

Jaguar Land Rover is helping to adapt a section of roads for extra-connected vehicles. Drivers will get early warnings of dangers beyond their vision. And in turn their cars will automatically pass on the alert.

Around 100 ‘smart’ connected and near-autonomous vehicles will use the 40-mile section of roads, mixing it with ordinary traffic. Driving between Coventry and Solihull? This means you. 

Engineers worldwide agree that autonomous cars will work a lot better if they’re able to milk information above and beyond what their internal sensors and mapping can harvest. The ‘connected corridor’, as JLR is calling it, is an example.

The sort of info we normally see on overhead gantries is an example. Queues or ice warnings would be relayed directly to the connected car, alerting either the driver or the autonomous system. Possible re-routing around a jam would be sent by the same transmissions.

V2I, the boffins call it: vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. But we’ve also got V2V here: vehicle-to-vehicle. If you have to jam on the brakes, wouldn’t it be handy if the car following you, still out of sight around a blind bend, was instantly warned?

It’s not just about safety. As with similar projects around the world, the communication should improve traffic. It’ll help cars co-operate to merge more smoothly. And it should enable ‘platooning’ - a snake of cars going down the motorway with tiny gaps between them. And smaller gaps for a given speed mean more road capacity.

“These technologies will also help us meet the increasing customer demand for connected services whilst on the move,” JLR. So there you are: your car does the driving while you play what will, by then, be Fallout 6.

The experiment is costing £5.5m, and is known as ‘UK-CITE’ (UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment). Siemens, Visteon, Vodafone, the local council and universities and MIRA are also part of the project.

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