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Self-driving cars are coming to Birmingham

Motoring Research logo Motoring Research 1 day ago Daniel Puddicombe
a car driving down a street: Self-driving car © Provided by Motoring Research Self-driving car

A major trial of self-driving cars is to take place in Birmingham.

Called Project Endeavour and backed by the government, it features four Ford Mondeos fitted with lidar, radar and stereo cameras, along with an autonomy software platform by Oxbotica.

The fleet is capable of full ‘level four’ autonomous driving and will operate in a five-mile area around Lea Hall station, between Birmingham International Airport and the city centre. During the trials, a professionally-trained safety driver will be in each vehicle at all times, and will resume control ‘if necessary’.

The cars will drive around the city during the daytime for several weeks, Oxbotica said. This will allow them to experience different traffic situations and weather conditions. The route contains roundabouts, traffic lights and junctions in both industrial and residential areas.

‘Reducing private vehicle use’

a car parked on the side of a road: Self-driving car © Provided by Motoring Research Self-driving car

Birmingham City Council is also backing the trial and said it is ‘keen to understand the impact that autonomous vehicle services could have on areas with limited connectivity and how improving access to employment hubs could boost job opportunities and reduce private vehicle use’.

“Project Endeavour is a one-of-a-kind research project that is allowing us to learn about the challenges of deploying autonomous vehicles in multiple cities across the UK – a key part of being able to deploy services safely,” said Graeme Smith, senior vice president at Oxbotica.

“This stage of the mobility project is a new step for us, as Birmingham hosts our fleet of autonomous vehicles for the first time in real-life environments, and there has been a huge amount of enthusiasm from the local authority in the UK’s second largest city ahead of the deployment. 

“So far, Project Endeavour has been a real collaborative effort, bringing everyone into the discussion, from local authorities, to road safety groups, transport providers, and, most importantly, the general public.”

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