New autonomous car trials are beginning in Oxford as part of a government-backed research project into the technology.
Called Project Endeavour, the firm has now begun testing its fleet of six self-driving vehicles on Oxford’s streets, with Ford Mondeos being used as the base vehicles. The cars use technology from Oxbotica, a leader in autonomous software.
The self-driving cars will be out on public roads, though because they’re ‘Level 4’ vehicles they have the capability to drive autonomously. However, they still feature pedals and a steering wheel so that a driver can take over if necessary.
The vehicles will be driving on a nine-mile route from Oxford Parkway to the city’s main train station, which allows the vehicles to experience a range of scenarios, from commutes to school runs.
Project Endeavour is a government-backed consortium, which is made up of a number of tech firms and Oxfordshire County Council.
Dr Graeme Smith, senior vice president at Oxbotica and Project Endeavour consortium director, said: “The first live on-road public trials mark a key landmark for Project Endeavour as we work with local authorities and members of the public in London, Oxford and other major UK cities to shape the future of mobility. Alongside our valued partners, we’re making autonomous vehicle services an everyday reality, right here in the UK.”
The research and development project aims to bring the deployment of commercial autonomous vehicles in the UK a step closer, and will run across cities in the UK until Autumn 2021.