1 2
Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
2/6/20 10:30 a.m.
feature_image

Photography Courtesy Nissan

Driving a Nissan Leaf for 230 miles may not seem like much, but what about a Nissan Leaf making that drive entirely on its own--autonomously?

"Grand Drive," an experiment backed by the UK government and European consortium HumanDrive, was meant to push the capabilities of autonomous driving technology through "a number of UK unique road environments, such as complex roundabouts and high-speed country lanes with no road markings, white lines or kerbs [sic]." Sure, a lot of the equipment used may not be readily available to the average consumer, but the journey does show off today's autonomous vehicle technology.

The successful trip is definitely worth noting, but it makes us wonder what the future of sports cars and autonomous driving looks like. What do you think?

read the full release below:

  • UK Government-backed, Nissan Europe-led consortium HumanDrive, comes to its conclusion
  • Collaborative project explores how new technologies can make autonomous vehicle systems feel human-like and natural
  • UK project team achieves major milestone with the completion of the Grand Drive - a 230 mile autonomous journey across the UK
  • The Grand Drive route included a number of UK unique road environments, such as complex roundabouts and high-speed country lanes with no road markings, white lines or kerbs

A British-based research project into the latest autonomous vehicle technologies has successfully completed a 230-mile self-navigated journey on UK roads.

The project, HumanDrive, is jointly funded by UK government through the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and Innovate UK, and nine other consortium partners. The joint funding package for the project totalled £13.5m.

The research project has successfully completed two trials, a 230-mile self-navigated journey on UK roads – ‘Grand Drive’ – using advanced positioning technology and also a test track based activity which explored human-like driving using machine learning to enhance the user experience. 

The test vehicles included Nissan LEAFs, featuring GPS, radar, LIDAR and camera technologies that build up a perception of the world around it. Using that perceived world, the system can make decisions about how to navigate roads and obstacles it encounters on a journey.

Grand Drive in Detail

The first element of the project was the ‘Grand Drive’ from Cranfield, Bedfordshire, to Sunderland. The achievement was the culmination of 30 months’ work by the HumanDrive consortium - a team led by Nissan engineers in the UK, working in partnership with consortium members.

One of the key aspects of the project was to develop an advanced, autonomous vehicle control system. Ensuring that future advanced autonomous drive systems create a comfortable and familiar experience for customers is important as we move towards a more connected and autonomous future.

The 230 mile journey saw the lessons learned put into practice in a range of driving scenarios to negotiate country lanes with no or minimal road markings, junctions, roundabouts and motorways. The autonomous technology activated along the route to change lanes, merge and stop and start when necessary.

Bob Bateman, Project Manager for Nissan Technical Centre, Europe, said:
“The HumanDrive project allowed us to develop an autonomous vehicle that can tackle challenges encountered on UK roads that are unique to this part of the world, such as complex roundabouts and high-speed country lanes with no road markings, white lines or kerbs.”

The Grand Drive was achieved as the UK-based consortium members worked together to investigate how autonomous driving can emulate a natural, human-like driving style.

HumanDrive and Machine Learning

The second part of the HumanDrive projectlooked at how machine-learning Artificial Intelligence technologies could enhance the user experience and passenger comfort of connected and autonomous vehicles. Pilot vehicles tested successfully on private tracks, also incorporate artificial intelligence systems developed by fellow consortium member Hitachi Europe Ltd, which enable real-time machine-learning. By building a dataset of previously encountered traffic scenarios and solutions, it can use this ‘learned experience’ to handle similar scenarios in future and plot a safe route around an obstacle.

These technologies were subjected to a robust testing process and developed using a range of facilities, including simulation, hardware in the loop, private test tracks.

Business Minister, Nadhim Zahawi said:
“Safely completing the longest autonomous drive in Britain is an incredible achievement for Nissan and the HumanDrive consortium, and a huge step towards the rollout of driverless cars on UK streets.

“This project is a shining example of how the automotive industry, working with government, can drive forward technology to benefit people’s mobility - while helping to slash carbon emissions.”

Future of Transport Minister, George Freeman said:
“The UK is fast becoming a leader in intelligent and automated vehicle and traffic management technology, a huge global sector set to create thousands of jobs.

“Our Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy is supporting transport innovation for cleaner, greener and smarter transport, and Nissan’s successful HumanDrive project is an exciting example of how the next phase of the UK’s transport revolution could look.”

HumanDrive also went beyond the development of autonomous drive technology. The research also focused on advancing cyber security features in AD vehicles, developing testing and safety methodologies for UK AD testing and investigating the implications of AD vehicles on the wider transport system. 

HumanDrive and Nissan

While remaining a UK-based research project for now, the lessons learned from HumanDrive will help inform future AD systems.

Today, the new Nissan JUKE, LEAF, Qashqai and X-Trail models are all available with ProPILOT, a Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology and enhances a driver’s control by assisting with steering, acceleration and braking. It works in a single lane on highways, and is optimised for low-speed congestion and high-speed cruising.

By liberating drivers from some of the more mundane elements of motoring, ProPILOT helps to reduce fatigue and stress, whilst improving safety and enhancing control and confidence.

David Moss, Senior Vice President for Research & Development in Europe, Nissan Europe, said: “Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility vision is to develop autonomous drive technologies for use in all of our cars in any area of the world. The door is now open to build on this successful UK research project, as we move towards a future which is more autonomous, more electric, and more connected.”

HumanDrive project consortium members and areas of expertise

  • Lead partner and leading the autonomous vehicle (AV) development
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide human-like control and perception
  • University of Leeds. Understanding humanistic driving and its application to AVs whilst also developing a driver risk model
  • Connected Places Catapult (CPC). Project management, communications and marketing activity, dissemination and safety case elements of the project
  • HORIBA MIRA. Provider of test facilities, supported safety aspects of the project
  • SBD Automotive. Cyber security support and AV Human machine Interface (HMI) studies
  • Cranfield University. Provider of test facilities and supported AV demonstrations
  • Atkins Ltd. Provision of a Cyber Security Framework
  • Aimsun Ltd. Studying the impact of AVs on the transport system
  • Highways England. Understanding the infrastructure needs for AV deployment

Read the rest of the story

Donebrokeit
Donebrokeit UltraDork
2/6/20 10:33 a.m.

Very interesting, but what will the real world cost be?

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
2/6/20 11:37 a.m.

Any news on what the final tally was on mowed-down pedestrians?

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
2/6/20 11:38 a.m.

Good for them.

Although it looks to me that their hardware is one gen old- looking at the pictures of what is on the roof... Maybe- I'm just going by looks vs. the ones we see running around here.

Still- it would be nice if there were ANY effort to work on infrastructure- it's REALLY irritating waiting at a light with nobody coming in the opposite direction.  Stopping cars less saves a LOT of fuel.

slowbird
slowbird Dork
2/6/20 12:02 p.m.

I still think most people who think they want autonomous cars actually just need trains and subways.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler PowerDork
2/6/20 12:04 p.m.
slowbird said:

I still think most people who think they want autonomous cars actually just need trains and subways.

Trains and subways will never be able to go all the places cars can.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
2/6/20 12:19 p.m.

In reply to slowbird :

You aren't wrong. There are days where I really wish I could get on a train to take to work instead of the hour drive in my car.

Unfortunately, it seems like public transportation isn't a priority for some municipalities.

TopNoodles
TopNoodles Reader
2/6/20 12:52 p.m.

The technology is always impressive. And it's fun to see progress in autonomous cars after the whole flying cars in 2000 thing didn't really happen.

I will never understand how driving can be mundane, though. The monumental effort required to make a self driving car demonstrates how much brain power driving actually requires. The bicycle in the corner of my room is a constant reminder that if I ever start to hate driving, other options are available.

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
2/6/20 1:18 p.m.

Humans are the ones with range anxiety. Why not just.. remove them from the process? Silly meatsacks! 

Totally agree with Alfadriver about smart infrastructure. Traffic problems more or less come from governments. What really pisses me off is when they're openly impudent about it. 

I recently drove in Austin Texas and saw a billboard that that said "you aren't in traffic, you ARE traffic. find a better way" with little pictograms of bussing, walking, or light rail. 

So let me get this straight. Government taxes for infrastructure. Government uses taxpayer dollars to take out ad space to berate taxpayers for wanting infrastructure? I dont have a 'fu%# you' big enough for how offensive that is.  BUILD THE F$*^NG INFRASTRUCTURE. Dont like it, berkeleying quit. 

Actually, something similar happened in my hometown of San Antonio. They tried to shove toll roads down our throats for years regarding a large highway interchange and section of road that was to be built on the north end of town. The needed expansion and construction was mysteriously delayed for the entire duration of the push for toll roads. During this time the Texas DOT took out billboards here in town trying to sell the toll road concept.  Again, government takes taxpayer dollars, uses taxpayer dollars to take out ads to try to convince taxpayers to let them keep the money, NOT build roads, and give sweetheart 50-year leases of massive public thoroughfares to private for-profit entities.  Naturally we got pretty effin mad, they backed off, and that stretch of highway is now finally built, fully public...and about 10 years late. Meanwhile, a huge toll road was built out east of town. Remember when Hennessey posted a vid of a car going 220mph on that new (2012) toll road? Now people say it's so poorly  maintained and bumpy you can't even go the speed limit. 

My city leadership often talk about trying to make my city more walkable (in lieu of infrastructure improvements). Fine and dandy idea. I walked a lot when i went to Seattle, Montreal.. but those places don't have "try not to die" days where it's so far over 100f that public health alerts are issued exhorting the tax base to please not die of heat related illness. You cannot make that walkable. They also want to reallocate a city sales tax that is currently used to buy and protect land that feeds our freshwater aquifer and give it to our local bus transit authority (in lieu of improving road infrastructure). Cowards. RAISE A NEW TAX for your mandate-ducking agenda. 

Governments will do almost anything to abdicate their responsibilities to build road infrastructure. 

Torqued
Torqued New Reader
2/6/20 1:27 p.m.

How long until an autonomous car wins Formula 1 or the Indy 500?  That should be simpler to computerize than country roads, intersections, two-way traffic, traffic lights and roundabouts.

Driven5
Driven5 UltraDork
2/6/20 1:31 p.m.
1988RedT2 said:

Any news on what the final tally was on mowed-down pedestrians?

99% fewer than with human drivers.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
2/6/20 1:41 p.m.

The first question I was wondering - which the article seemed to be intentionally not answering - was how many times the vehicle needed human intervention on the trip. Was that 100% computer driving, or did the guy in the driver's seat have to slam on the brakes at some point, or did they switch over to manual control "as a precaution" in congested areas?

And the second question it seemed to have avoided answering - are any Lucas electronics involved in the build? cheeky

jb229
jb229 New Reader
2/7/20 12:46 a.m.
Vigo said:

Governments will do almost anything to abdicate their responsibilities to build road infrastructure. 

Honestly, it's not even building road infrastructure.  They don't even want to do the basic maintenance to make roads livable.  This is what happens when incompetent people run on a 'no public spending, only private contracts' platform and get their political expenses financed by the same people who bid the contracts.  They say it's to reduce government bloat and spending, but private contracts cost exponentially more with less oversight and worse quality.

I mean, if I'm driving down a major street, road or highway and I'm worried about bottoming out a standard factory height Mazda3, something has gone terribly wrong.  People aren't buying SUVs only for the high seat position or because they have back problems, it's because the paved roads aren't much better maintained than the gravel ones.

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
2/7/20 1:01 a.m.

yeah, but did they go through Swindon at rush hour?

 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
2/7/20 4:54 a.m.
1988RedT2 said:

Any news on what the final tally was on mowed-down pedestrians?

Approximately .065 Mustangs.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
2/7/20 4:55 a.m.
Tom_Spangler said:
slowbird said:

I still think most people who think they want autonomous cars actually just need trains and subways.

Trains and subways will never be able to go all the places cars can.

Yes, but they do allow the 3 neurons in their brains to stop firing and have a rest for a while, which is all they want in the first place.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
2/7/20 5:01 a.m.
jb229 said:
Vigo said:

Governments will do almost anything to abdicate their responsibilities to build road infrastructure. 

Honestly, it's not even building road infrastructure.  They don't even want to do the basic maintenance to make roads livable.  This is what happens when incompetent people run on a 'no public spending, only private contracts' platform and get their political expenses financed by the same people who bid the contracts.  They say it's to reduce government bloat and spending, but private contracts cost exponentially more with less oversight and worse quality.

 

Don't forget that fuel taxes (what are supposed to be covering infrastructure maintenance) are disturbingly low.  They are lower now than they were in the 80s, long before adjusting for inflation (it was close to 50% back then), or how fuel taxes are per-gallon based instead of per-dollar based and the vehicle fleet has much better fuel economy than it did in 1985.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
2/7/20 5:07 a.m.
Driven5 said:
1988RedT2 said:

Any news on what the final tally was on mowed-down pedestrians?

99% fewer than with human drivers.

I would be interested in comparing the number of pedestrian deaths and total miles driven with both autonomous vs human drivers.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
2/7/20 5:15 a.m.

In reply to Knurled. :

I think ~$.70 per gallon is more than enough taxes on gas. Politicians need to do more with less like we have to. The local, state and federal officials are the foxes guarding the chickens and have very little oversight and almost to repercussions when they blow it. 

 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
2/7/20 5:31 a.m.

In reply to ebonyandivory :

I submit that it's not.  It was around 44 cents in 1985 when gas was under a buck a gallon and everything was way less than 62% cheaper than it is today.  If fuel tax followed fuel prices it'd be closer to $1.50/gallon, if it followed inflation it would be even higher.

 

The problem isn't that the current taxes are too high, the problem is prevailing wages are too low.  Real income in the US has been steadily dropping since the 1970s.  And in deference to the Site Principals, I'ma stop before I rant myself under a patio.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
2/7/20 5:36 a.m.

In reply to Knurled. :

We'll have to disagree that Alabama for instance collecting almost a half-BILLION dollars in fuel taxes per years is more than enough. We obviously have a different view of taxes and spending.

 

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
2/7/20 5:51 a.m.

In reply to ebonyandivory :

"Half a billion" sounds like a lot but is it? How many miles of road do they have to maintain and how much does it cost to maintain those miles? How many bridges are in severe disrepair? It's easy to say "they just need to learn to do more with less" but there's only so far that will go when you're talking about building bridges. In that context half a billion sounds like way too little for an entire state in the richest nation on earth. 

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
2/7/20 5:56 a.m.

In reply to dculberson :

My default stance is there's currently several million dollars in each state that's completely wasted. I'll continue to stand by that until I'm proven wrong.

 

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
2/7/20 6:10 a.m.

In reply to ebonyandivory :

Several million per state when there's trillions of dollars flowing through our economy every year is not much.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
2/7/20 6:15 a.m.
ebonyandivory said:

In reply to dculberson :

My default stance is there's currently several million dollars in each state that's completely wasted. I'll continue to stand by that until I'm proven wrong.

 

Several million dollars may well be wasted.  But out of 500M, that's less than 1%.  Which is a LOT better than private companies are.

 

We should be spending billions on infrastructure improvements that actually can use the data of smart car traffic flow and whatnot.  The fact that traffic lights are not all programed based on flow and current patterns should scream something needs to change.

Here in Michigan, we don't have good roads because there is no money to fix them.  Let alone being able to use the information that smarter and smarter cars bring to the table to better traffic flow and decrease fuel consumption.

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
NZCT9kfi5TnILDRE9Uxp8ZDudFnTqUKXqB3kpz9hBy0kHSLpd0adZeJvxSnzVm6E