A trial route for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) is being created in the West Midlands, covering over 300 kilometres of inner city, suburban and rural roads.
The route will extend from Coventry to Birmingham and will take in the University of Warwick, Coventry ring road, roads in Meriden and Solihull, and central Birmingham around the Jewellery Quarter, as well as key interchanges such as Birmingham International Airport and the new HS2 hub in the city. Infrastructure on the route will include smart CCTV, weather stations, communications units and highly accurate GPS.
According to Midlands Future Mobility, the first vehicles to be trialled along the route will be connected vehicles which can ‘talk’ to each other and warn of traffic, crashes and other hazards on the road ahead.
During the early stages of research none of the vehicles on the route will be driving themselves. When autonomous vehicles are trialled on the route, safety operators will be on board to monitor how they perform and take over immediately in the event of a problem. These vehicles will appear gradually as more and more advanced ‘driver assistance’ systems are tested such as lane centring and auto-speed limiting technology.
Wilke Reints, managing director of Intelligent Traffic Systems for Siemens Mobility in the UK, said that CAVs offer the potential to “improve safety, reduce congestion and help optimise traffic flow” and the new project “allows us collectively to demonstrate how smart technology enables vehicles to be connected via high-speed, high-capacity wireless infrastructure across a whole road network.”
There are plans to extend the route to 350km later this year.
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