The West Midlands of England is a geographically diverse region, one home to everything from dense urban centers to rural counties to the longest river in the U.K. Despite what it may look like on a map, though, the area will soon be home to the future of driving.
Jaguar Land Rover has announced its participation in a 41-mile “Connected Corridor,” which will be used to develop connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. A part of the government-backed Connected Intelligent Transport Environment project (U.K.-CITE), the so-called “living laboratory” will use public roads around Coventry and Solihull to evaluate new systems in practical driving situations.
“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,” said Dr. Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology at Jaguar Land Rover. “Similar research corridors already exist in other parts of Europe so this test route is exactly the sort of innovation infrastructure the U.K. needs to compete globally.”
“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,” he continued. “These technologies will also help us meet the increasing customer demand for connected services whilst on the move.”
Advanced roadside equipment will be installed along the corridor over the next three years, enabling enhanced vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication between test cars. The constant flow of information has multiple benefits, including optimized traffic control and in-car notifications for road conditions, detours, and construction zones. And because the need for variable freeway signs would be diminished, it also means less taxpayer money would be spent on the installation and maintenance of gantries.
A fleet of up to 100 cars — five of which will come from Jaguar Land Rover — will roam the 41-mile stretch in search of the best method of dialogue. The company hopes that with technologies like Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control, vehicles will be able to follow each other autonomously, making the roads safer and more efficient.