A self-driving Nissan Leaf has completed the longest and most complicated journey on UK roads by an autonomous vehicle, which included country roads, traffic and even a jaunt along the M1 motorway.
Image credit: Nissan
The Nissan Leaf, equipped with sat-nav, radar, Lidar laser measurement technology and cameras, completed a 230-mile trip that began at Nissan’s Cranfield, Bedfordshire technical centre and ended at the Japanese carmaker’s UK production HQ in Sunderland. This plant is where the Leaf is assembled.
This record-breaking trip dubbed the ‘GrandDrive’ relied on advanced positioning technology and autonomous technology to stop or start the vehicle and change lanes.
The journey was part of the £13.5m HumanDrive joint project funded by the government and nine industry consortium partners including Nissan (of course) and Hitachi. The project manager for Nissan’s Europe technical centre Bob Bateman said: “The HumanDrive project allowed us to develop an autonomous vehicle that can tackle challenges encountered on UK roads that are unique to this part of the world, such as complex roundabouts and high-speed country lanes with no road markings, white lines or kerbs.”
Image credit: Nick Dimbleby
Self-driving cars haven’t been without their critics and controversy, and with safety in mind two engineers remained in the car throughout the journey. The target of 99% automation was reached with the human drivers taking over to check and charge the Leaf at four service stations along the route.
The project’s goal is to develop an autonomous vehicle control system that closely resembles a natural, human driving style. This test is seen as the next step in making inroads to generate an estimated £62bn boost to the UK economy by 2030, as reported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
With recent news that the UK government plans to bring forward banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2035 and ever-growing investment in autonomous vehicles, we could be looking at a very different landscape on UK roads within the next decade. Are you excited for the future of motoring, or have you got your concerns? Let us know on our Facebook page.
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