Any conversation focusing on autonomous cars inevitably comes around to speculating how they will communicate with each other and “decide” who gets to go first if both arrive simultaneously at an intersection.
Jaguar Land Rover is on it. The automaker is testing a fleet of smart and connected vehicles to prepare for self-driving cars.
The tests are happening on the “connected corridor” in the UK. The trials are part of the more than $9 million UK Cite Project creating the UK’s first fully connected road infrastructure to prepare for self-driving cars.
More than 40 miles will benefit from a world-first combination of wireless technologies including 3/4G mobile networks, WiFi and fibre optic networks, ensuring vehicles can always be connected to each other and to infrastructure.
By the end of 2026, the number of fully autonomous vehicles sold will reach 21 million globally, according to the forecast by Juniper Research. The U.S. will account for 5 million, one in four vehicles sold in the country. That’s eight short years away. Will the vehicles, and perhaps more important, the roads evolve that quickly?
The vehicles on the road today are already rapidly moving in that direction. While most aren’t self-driving, the safety features already available and in many cases standard are amazing and a preface to autonomy.
I recently test drove a Jaguar F-Pace, the first-ever SUV from Jaguar. It’s not self-driving, but well on its way. Besides having an engine the purrs like it’s namesake cat, the vehicle has available active safety and driver assistance systems include lane keeping assist with driver condition monitoring, adaptive cruise control with queue assist, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and blind-spot warning.
The rear-view camera is nothing short of astonishing. As one of my passengers noted, the picture is clearer and crisper than that of her television set. That technology can be employed in front and side view cameras to “see” further down the road.
For the UK testing, road infrastructure and vehicles, including Discovery Sports, Range Rovers and F-Paces, have been kitted out with a world-first combination of wireless technologies. The research fleet of connected cars talk to each other and the surroundings to improve safety, avoid accidents and prepare for self-driving.
Connecting cars to each other and their surroundings (known as V2X) is a vital step for safe, large-scale deployment of self-driving cars. The latest connected technology complements other vehicle sensors.
For instance, warning that a car too far ahead to see has applied its brakes allows a following driver to avoid a potential accident. The system will work on both manual and autonomous driving and so will greatly improving road safety across levels of autonomy.
“To realize the full benefit of self-driving cars, we need to understand the infrastructure that’s required to support them,” says Colin Lee, Jaguar Land Rover connectivity manager, in a release. “Connectivity not only takes us a step closer to making self-driving cars a reality but it also creates the platform to bring more connected safety features to our customers within the next few years. We’re working with some fantastic global experts across industry and academia and we’re eager to take the project into this next phase of testing.”
Jaguar Land Rover will be trialing a range of intelligent connected features such as emergency electronic brake light warning, emergency vehicle warning, and in-vehicle signage for roadworks warning and traffic condition warning.
UK Cite is just one of the connected and autonomous projects which is helping Jaguar Land Rover to offer customers an increased choice of features, while maintaining an enjoyable and safe driving experience. This project forms part of the company’s vision to leverage connectivity as a segue to making the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real-life, on- and off-road driving conditions.