The new £1 million Highways England project that will assess how suitable the country’s motorways are for self-driving vehicles has been joined by Loughborough University. Researchers will look at operations at roadworks, merging and diverging sections and lane markings to identify safety issues for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).
The project, named CAVIAR (Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Infrastructure Appraisal Readiness), is being carried out in partnership with construction company, Galliford Try.
“To date there is significant investment and advancement in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. It is, however, not known whether existing road infrastructure, which was designed for conventional vehicles, is ready for the safe and efficient operations of CAVs. CAVIAR directly addresses this challenge,” said Professor of intelligent transport systems, Mohammed Quddus, the principal investigator on the project, and also of ABCE.
“Although CAVs are designed with existing infrastructure in mind, ensuring they are safe to operate on motorways will require evaluating how road layouts affect their operational boundaries such as their ability to sense lanes and make appropriate decisions.”
The platform will be employed to evaluate whether CAVs can safely navigate through the existing configurations of construction zones. Real-world data from different lane configurations will be collected and fed into the simulation models to calibrate and examine how CAVs respond to dynamic lane changes.
Digital maps representing dynamic lane configurations will be transmitted to CAVs in advance for informed routing decisions. In terms of lane markings, the platform will be utilised to understand how environmental conditions affect a CAVs ability to detect lane markings, such as snow, and low lighting – for example at night.
For merging and diverging scenarios, inconsistencies in geometric configurations will be appraised to examine whether CAVs are able to merge safely from the local road network (low speed) to the motorway network (highspeed).
The team from ABCE, led by Professor Quddus, also includes Dr Craig Morton, Dr Alkis Papadoulis, Nicolette Formosa, Cansu Masera and Jacky Man. Loughborough will lead the work on the development and validation of the simulation platform.