The StreetWise consortium today announces the launch of its commuter research trials with invited participants. This is the UK’s most advanced demonstration of self-driving vehicles on mixed-use public roads, deploying advanced technology developed by FiveAI, who lead the project.
Through StreetWise, FiveAI is partnering with Direct Line Group, one of the UK’s largest car insurance providers, and TRL, the global centre for innovation in transport and mobility, amongst other partners, to run an invite-only self-driving research trial across a fixed route in the London boroughs of Croydon and Bromley.
As part of the StreetWise project, which researches the technology, safety validation methods, insurance and service models required to deliver a viable, shared self-driving service, these trials aim to gather insights into self-driving vehicle services from the research participants. Although these research trials are not open to the wider public, ultimately FiveAI believes self-driving services could offer citizens a safer, greener, more convenient and increasingly affordable alternative to the urban commuter car.
FiveAI’s role in the project has been to develop and provide the reference software stack that powers all key aspects of the self-driving system. The stack was developed and trained using a data set from complex UK roads and cities, including London. Rigorous safety practices govern all of the on road testing, where highly trained safety drivers sit behind the wheel at all times. FiveAI’s participation in the consortium comes with the desire to power the development of the industry through commercial partnerships.
TRL is undertaking all participant research and analysis, assessing researching participants’ willingness to use and pay for a shared self-driving service as well as measuring their attitudes towards safety and trust. TRL is also establishing the safety case for the wider StreetWise project and generating an independent database of scenarios for simulation testing.
Direct Line Group is providing research participants for the trials. As part of the broader StreetWise consortium, Direct Line Group insures operations based on TRL’s safety case, and more broadly, is working to understand the conditions needed to insure software – rather than human – drivers.
Stan Boland, co-founder and CEO of FiveAI, said: “Shared, self-driving vehicle services promise a better way for people to get around, we’ll be working with forward-thinking partners to make these services a reality in European urban environments. The lessons learned through StreetWise provide an important step towards that goal.”
Paul Gadd, Interim Deputy Director for Land Transport, UKRI, said: “By bringing together cutting-edge technology and world-class research with insurers and the government, the UK is placing itself at the forefront of self-driving vehicle technology. StreetWise is a fine example of how the UK is becoming a premier development location for connected and automated vehicles.”
David Hynd, Chief Scientist at TRL said: “This is a significant milestone not only for the StreetWise consortium but for the entire CAV sector in the UK and beyond. Automated vehicles represent the future of transport and have the potential to deliver tangible, wide-reaching benefits in relation to reduced congestion, faster and cheaper commutes, fewer collisions and cleaner air. We’re very excited about entering this phase of the project to create credible and real-world insights on the willingness to use and attitudes towards a shared, automated service, which will go a long way to helping us understand how these services can meet the needs of end-users.”
Neil Ingram, Head of Motor Product at Direct Line Group said: “As technological advances continue at pace and self-driving cars become a reality, insurers need to understand how that changes risk; cars will increasingly be controlled by software rather than humans. Working closely with our StreetWise partners, including FiveAI and TRL, provides DLG with unique insight that will help to develop innovative insurance solutions for new tech enabled mobility services.”
UK Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said: “The untapped potential of self-driving vehicle technology is huge — it could enhance road safety, tackle isolation, and create economic opportunities. The Government’s Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy sets out how it is planning for the introduction of self-driving vehicles, and StreetWise’s successful trial will be a major step to rolling out the next phase of the UK’s transport revolution.”