Self-driving cars are most definitely coming and they inched another yard or so towards your driveway after a Range Rover Sport completed a lap of one of the UK’s most challenging road layouts completely unaided.
In a notable first for autonomous vehicles, a prototype self-driving Range Rover Sport successfully negotiated Coventry’s complex ring road.
This isn’t a simple case of driving in a circle. Coventry ring road is made up of entirely closely connected junctions, except for one roundabout, with one junction leading into another at many points.
As such, the Rangie had to safely change lanes, merge with traffic and exit junctions whilst sticking to the 40mph speed limit. It can also deal with roundabouts, traffic lights, pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles on complicated roads as well as park itself.
It’s all part of a three-year £20 million government-funded project, which ends this month and has seen Jaguar Land Rover engineers complete significant self-driving technology testing on closed tracks before hitting the roads of Milton Keynes and Coventry.
Mark Cund, Jaguar Land Rover’s autonomous vehicle research manager, said: “Coventry’s ring road is known for its complicated slip roads and exits, [which] make for very challenging conditions, especially when under pressure in the rush hour.
“Our self-driving car is not impacted by the same pressure, frustrations or fatigue that a driver may experience and so it’s capable of turning a potentially very stressful situation into a completely stress-free one.”
Jaguar Land Rover’s highly skilled engineers have also developed connected features during the project, including safety-enhancing and emission reducing technology that go online to connect vehicles to each other and to infrastructure, such as traffic lights.
The fact that the programme was completed without accident or incident kind of suggests that it won’t be long before self-driving cars are safer than most human motorists. The robot Rangies are rising!
What do you think about these autonomous cars? Are the days of the humble taxi driver numbered? Let us know what you think down in the comments.