StreetWise launches London research trials in self-driving vehicles

Posted: 24 October 2019 |

FiveAI, the project lead, believes self-driving services could offer citizens a safer, greener, more convenient and increasingly affordable alternative to the urban commuter car. 

StreetWise launches London research trials in self-driving vehicles

The StreetWise consortium has launched its commuter research trials with invited participants. It is said to be the UK’s most advanced demonstration of self-driving vehicles on mixed-use public roads, deploying technology developed by FiveAI, who lead the project.

Through StreetWise, FiveAI is partnering with Direct Line Group, one of the UK’s largest car insurance providers, and the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), the global centre for innovation in transport and mobility, amongst other partners, to run an invite-only self-driving research trial across a fixed route in the London boroughs of Croydon and Bromley. 

As part of the StreetWise project, which researches the technology, safety validation methods, insurance and service models required to deliver a viable, shared self-driving service, these trials aim to gather insights into self-driving vehicle services from the research participants. 

UK Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, said: “The untapped potential of self-driving vehicle technology is huge – it could enhance road safety, tackle isolation, and create economic opportunities. The Government’s Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy sets out how it is planning for the introduction of self-driving vehicles, and StreetWise’s successful trial will be a major step to rolling out the next phase of the UK’s transport revolution.”

FiveAI’s role in the project has been to develop and provide the reference software stack that powers key aspects of the self-driving system. The stack was developed and trained using a data set from complex UK roads and cities, including London. In-depth safety practices govern all of the on-road testing, where highly trained safety drivers sit behind the wheel at all times. 

TRL is undertaking all participant research and analysis, assessing, researching participants’ willingness to use and pay for a shared self-driving service as well as measuring their attitudes towards safety and trust. TRL is also establishing the safety case for the wider StreetWise project and generating an independent database of scenarios for simulation testing. 

Direct Line Group is providing research participants for the trials. As part of the broader StreetWise consortium, Direct Line Group insures operations based on TRL’s safety case, and is working to understand the conditions needed to insure software – rather than human – drivers.

Stan Boland, co-founder and CEO of FiveAI, said: “Shared, self-driving vehicle services promise a better way for people to get around, and we will be working with forward-thinking partners to make these services a reality in European urban environments. The lessons learned through StreetWise provide an important step towards that goal.”  

David Hynd, Chief Scientist at TRL, added: “This is a significant milestone not only for the StreetWise consortium but for the entire CAV sector in the UK and beyond. Automated vehicles represent the future of transport and have the potential to deliver tangible, wide-reaching benefits in relation to reduced congestion, faster and cheaper commutes, fewer collisions and cleaner air. We’re very excited about entering this phase of the project to create credible and real-world insights on the willingness to use and attitudes towards a shared, automated service, which will go a long way to helping us understand how these services can meet the needs of end-users.”