Coventry University’s key role in £15.2m self-driving technology trial

A £15.2m trial of self-driving technology is to be jointly led by Coventry University and Conigital.

A £15.2m trial of self-driving technology is to be jointly led by Coventry University and Conigital.

The Multi-Area Connected Automated Mobility (MACAM) Project will begin in around 18 months’ time.

It has been organised in collaboration with Coventry City Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Warwick Manufacturing Group, dRisk, IPG Automotive UK, Direct Line Group (insurance) and the NEC.

Coventry University’s role is to develop strategies that aim to provide secure and efficient operation of self-driving vehicles that can be safely controlled in multiple locations by remote operators in a control room.

The operators are to use a 5G-based, Remote Monitoring and Tele-Operation (RMTO) service. 

Kevin Vincent, director of Coventry University’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Automotive Research, said: “We were chosen to take part in this project because it is recognised that we have expertise in studying human factors and in cyber security in the field of self-driving vehicles. 

“Our work on this is all about demonstrating the technology will work in real world settings and providing that evidence for those who want to further develop self-driving technology. 

“Coventry was the site of some of the UK’s early self-driving trials and we have a history of running safe road trials.”

As well as developing strategies for secure and efficient operation of the self-driving vehicles, the university also plans to use them to operate an internal mail service across its city centre locations.

It will use purpose-built self-driving light vans, while its expertise in cybersecurity will ensure their safety and reliability.

Initially a driver will be present within the vehicles but eventually it is anticipated they will be unmanned and monitored completely remotely.  

Ultimately the university’s goal from the project is to show the technology can be put into commercial use.

Professor Stewart Birrell, Professor of Human Factors for Future Transport at Coventry University, said: “There is a defined legal driver of any vehicle but what we’re doing is taking that person out from behind a steering wheel and putting them in a control room. 

“We want to explore the human factors involved and how control of a vehicle is passed over to an operator at specific points in a journey, for example where there may be a particularly difficult section of a trip that needs negotiating. 

“We want to show this technology works within real world settings, not just on a test track.”

The MACAM Project is just one of a number of projects exploring self-driving technology to recently have been awarded a share of £81m in funding from government and private industry as part of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Connected and Automated Mobility programme.

Find out more about Coventry University’s work in the area of autonomous vehicles.

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