evolvAD, a UK government-funded project to deploy connected and autonomous vehicles on urban residential and complex rural roads is officially underway.

This project aims to enhance the capabilities of autonomous vehicles in the UK by testing them on roads that offer unique challenges for automated driving technology.

For example, in residential areas, the system will encounter slow speed limits on narrow roads and single lanes with parked vehicles on either side. Meanwhile, rural roads often have higher driving speeds and winding roads with fewer or no road markings.

evolvAD - Nissan LEAF test vehicle
evolvAD – Nissan LEAF test vehicle

The research project is being delivered by a consortium of Nissan, Connected Places Catapult, Humanising Autonomy, SBD Automotive and TRL.

Over the next 21 months, the five companies will test electric Nissan LEAF autonomous vehicles in simulation, on private test tracks and on live roads.

Robert Bateman, evolvAD Project Manager and Manager of Nissan's Research and Advanced Engineering team, Nissan Technical Centre Europe said:

In our previous research projects, our AD team and partners have tackled highways and complex city environments. Now we move onto our next challenge – built up residential streets and rural roads.

To bring autonomous driving to market, we must test and trial the technology on as many different road types as possible and that's why projects like evolvAD are so important. Ultimately, we want to make driving cleaner, safer and more inclusive for everyone and we look forward to working with our consortium partners to deliver that.

Throughout the project, the vehicles will use infrastructure such as CCTV to receive information and develop greater situational awareness. This will create a test focus on how vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technologies can be used to enhance the performance of autonomous vehicles.

The project will also look to develop new V2I technologies to further support the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Minister for Industry and Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani, said:

Self-driving vehicles have the potential to transform how we get around, making journeys safer, cleaner and more accessible while also helping grow the economy by creating highly skilled jobs.

This research project will help develop this technology and show that the UK is at the cutting edge in developing automated technology that is not only innovative but, crucially, has safety at its heart.

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