New research project looks to unlock urban autonomous car tech potential

A new research project is looking to see how the very latest autonomous vehicle technology can be incorporated into city environments.

ServCity, which is due to be launched this month, is being funded by the government’s Intelligent Mobility fund, which is then delivered by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Backed by five partners – Nissan, the Connected Places Catapult, TRL, Hitachi and the University of Nottingham – the project will look at how autonomous vehicles can be best used in cities throughout the UK.

Bob Bateman (Project Manager) from Nissan said: “We are extremely proud to be a part of the ServCity project and are excited to trial our electric Nissan Leaf as test vehicles. Our Nissan Intelligent Mobility strategy strives to achieve a mobility future that is more electric, more autonomous and more connected and we look forward to working in collaboration with ServCity’s other partners to achieve this.”

It looks to build on the experience gained from the recent HumanDrive project, which saw autonomous vehicles tested on country lanes where road markings are seldom used. A lack of any real marking on the road is one of the key challenges for autonomous vehicles, which often use these to plot their path forward.

ServCity will follow a similar path, albeit in cities rather than rural areas. A combination of test simulations, end-user experience research and real-world trials will show how autonomous cars could be used in urban environments.

Nadhim Zahawi, business and industry minister, said: “If society is to enjoy the benefits of self-driving vehicles, we need to ensure the technology can safely master a complex and lively modern city, with all its obstacles.

“This project, backed by Government funding, will not only help make autonomous vehicles more user friendly, but also give users confidence that they can respond quickly and safely and to all types of challenges they face on the roads.”