It’s been called a "living laboratory" that will help JLR develop its autonomous driving technology

When automakers from all corners of the world began announcing their plans of developing autonomous driving technology, it felt like it would only be a matter of time before these pursuits sprouted new forms of technological advancements that were tied into autonomous driving. Jaguar Land Rover has certainly put its money where its mouth is, after announcing a £5.5 million ($7.8 million) investment in a 41-mile test corridor called the UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment, or UK-CITE for short. The venue is called a “living laboratory” that will used for a variety of functions, including the evaluation of JLR’s new systems that are related to real-world driving conditions and more importantly, support the development of connected and autonomous driving technology.

Other companies, universities, and organizations also joined in to partake in the development of UK-CITE, including Siemens, Vodafone, Visteon, WMG, the University of Warwick, Coventry University, and the Coventry City Council.

JLR’s goal is to use UK-CITE and its facilities to develop and test out its automotive vehicle technologies on as many as five different types of roads and junctions. Roadside communications equipment have also been installed to test vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems on as many as 100 connected and automated cars. The whole set-up is meant to unlock the key to sharing information at high speed between cars and roadside infrastructures like traffic lights.

In the end, UK-CITE is expected to play a big role in JLR’s continued pursuit in the development of its own autonomous driving technology while also addressing the clear, real-life need of improving road safety for both the cars and its drivers.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

Jaguar Land Rover Helps Launch The UK's First Test Corridor
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This is a huge step in the right direction for Jaguar Land Rover and it’s pretty telling that the company is spearheading the movement to have a testing corridor in the UK when similar types have already sprouted in other parts of Europe. This is JLR telling everyone that it’s not about to fall behind in the race to develop autonomous driving technology and other connected services to its clients.

Now I’m not going to pretend to know the minutiae of testing corridors, but I do know that it’s a place where automakers can really ramp up the testing and development of its connected services. That’s why the UK-CITE will have dedicated short-range communications to go with local WiFi hotspots, 4G LTE, and the more advanced version of LTE called LTE-V. The addition of these high-powered connectivity platforms should allow JLR to go all-out in the testing and development of its tech.

One platform that JLR’s research team has already scheduled for real-world testing is its range of “Over the Horizon” warning systems. These systems will be developed in concert with autonomous driving technology, with the objective of helping vehicles react and respond to certain traffic conditions without the help of a driver. For instance, the company’s ‘Emergency Vehicle Warning’ system would be able to allow vehicles to identify the presence of a police car, ambulance, or firetruck though car-to-car communication. Instead of having to rely on the sound and lights of an oncoming emergency vehicle, the system will instead send a warning to the driver in advance so he can act accordingly when the EMTs draw closer.

Where this leads is still anybody’s guess. The question on when the technologies that will arise from this new endeavor will become mainstream will likely be answered in a time frame of years, not months. So, there’s still a long way to go for JLR to recoup the investment it made in opening the UK-CITE testing corridor. But, this is a great start to that pursuit and, with the help of heavy-hitting industry partners like Siemens, Vodafone, and Visteon, JLR should be on its way to achieving that.

Press Release

Jaguar and Land Rover is investing in a 41 mile ‘living laboratory’ project on UK roads to develop new Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technologies. The new CAV test corridor, which includes 41 miles of roads around Coventry and Solihull, will be used to evaluate new systems in real-world driving conditions.

Jaguar Land Rover Helps Launch The UK's First Test Corridor
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The £5.5m ‘UK-CITE’ (UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment) project will create the first test route capable of testing both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems on public roads in the UK. New roadside communications equipment will be installed along the route during the three year project to enable the testing of a fleet of up to 100 connected and highly automated cars, including five Jaguar Land Rover research vehicles.

This fleet will test a range of different communication technologies1 that could share information at very high speeds between cars, and between cars and roadside infrastructure, including traffic lights and overhead gantries.

Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, today announced the UK Government’s support for the UK-CITE research with a £3.41 million grant from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. This funding for collaborative research is part of the Government’s £100m Connected and Autonomous Vehicles fund.

Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “This real-life laboratory will allow Jaguar Land Rover’s research team and project partners to test new connected and autonomous vehicle technologies on five different types of roads and junctions. Similar research corridors already exist in other parts of Europe so this test route is exactly the sort of innovation infrastructure the UK needs to compete globally.

Jaguar Land Rover Helps Launch The UK's First Test Corridor
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“The connected and autonomous vehicle features we will be testing will improve road safety, enhance the driving experience, reduce the potential for traffic jams and improve traffic flow. These technologies will also help us meet the increasing customer demand for connected services whilst on the move.”

Connected technologies are key enablers for future Intelligent Transport Systems. These would help traffic authorities monitor and manage traffic flow by capturing data from all connected vehicles and then provide the driver or autonomous car with guidance to optimise the journey.

To improve traffic flow, connected cars could co-operate and work together to make lane changing and exiting from junctions more efficient and safer. Technologies like Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC) would enable vehicles to autonomously follow each other in close formation, known as platooning, making driving safer and ensuring road space is used more efficiently.

Over the horizon warnings

In the future, warning messages that are today flashed onto an overhead gantry above a road could be sent direct to the dashboard – and repeated if necessary. This would have the potential to eventually replace the overhead gantry, which each cost around £1m to install.

The Jaguar Land Rover research team will be real-world testing a range of ‘Over the Horizon’ warning systems. As well as warning drivers, these would inform future autonomous vehicles, helping them react and respond to hazards and changing traffic conditions automatically.

Dr Epple added: “A well-informed driver is a safer driver, while an autonomous vehicle will need to receive information about the driving environment ahead. The benefits of smarter vehicles communicating with each other and their surroundings include a car sending a warning that it is braking heavily or stopping in a queue of traffic or around a bend. This will enable an autonomous car to take direct action and respond. Drivers would receive a visual and audible warning that another car is causing a hazard out of sight or over the horizon.

“The approach of an emergency vehicle can often be stressful for drivers. If we can inform the driver, or the autonomous car, much earlier that an emergency vehicle is approaching, we can ensure that the best decisions are made to move the vehicle out of the way safely and conveniently, to let the emergency vehicle pass by.”

Jaguar Land Rover Helps Launch The UK's First Test Corridor
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Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Emergency Vehicle Warning’ system would identify that a connected ambulance, fire engine or police car is approaching through car-to-car communication. The driver would then receive a warning, long before flashing lights and sirens are audible or visible.

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