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Sat April 13 2024

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Smart motorways present obstacles to self-driving cars

30 Sep 20 Road technology used in smart motorways has failed to keep pace with developments in vehicle technologies, researchers have found.

This has major implications with the advent of self-driving cars, which might not be able to navigate England’s new generation of smart motorways.

Construction contractor Galliford Try is working with researchers at Loughborough University on an Innovate UK/Highways England project to investigate the implications for connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs) on the UK motorway network.

The project is now into its second phase, following the completion of the first stage which highlighted three main areas of concern for the use of CAVs on the motorway network: how they deal with roadworks; merging and diverging areas; and lane markings.

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Phase two of the project is exploring these three issues in more detail. An instrumented vehicle, acting as a proxy for a CAV, alongside additional roadside data sources will be used to gather data from the M1 between junctions 13 and 15. This data will be fed into an advanced simulation platform and used to identify possible measures to avoid future incidents. These interventions will then be tested in real world conditions to make recommendations to asset owners, highways contractors, vehicle manufacturers and others.

The project, named CAVIAR – Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Infrastructure Appraisal of Readiness – was awarded £1m from the Innovation and Modernisation Fund. It is due to publish its findings in early 2021.

Galliford Try research and development manager Jon de Souza said: “This research is vital because CAVs’ ability to apply their intelligence is severely limited by the current approach to roadway infrastructure design and maintenance and by the fact that road technology has not kept pace with CAV technology. We need to close the gap. The project has the potential to influence the industry not only nationally but globally too as we prepare for the CAV revolution.”

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