NEWSBYTE Leading radar and sensor experts from the University of Birmingham have been selected to help Jaguar Land Rover deliver a £3.7 million project to make all-terrain, all-weather, self-driving sports utility vehicles (SUVs) a reality.
The researchers will collaborate with experts from the automotive and technology industries over the next 30 months to deliver the CORTEX project for Jaguar Land Rover – the UK’s largest car manufacturer, and a subsidiary of India’s Tata Motors.
The project will see self-driving cars going off road, with the aim of ensuring that they are fully capable in any weather or environmental conditions, including dirt, rain, ice, snow, or fog, at Level-4 and -5 autonomy.
Sensing the future
Birmingham researchers based at the University’s Microwave Integrated Systems Laboratory are developing a ‘5D’ technique, combining real-time acoustic, video, radar, and LiDAR data, and applying AI and machine learning algorithms to the results.
Access to this mixed data should improve a vehicle’s awareness of its environment. When combined with machine learning, this will enable a self-driving car to respond in an increasingly sophisticated way, allowing it to handle any weather on any terrain.
The CORTEX project – announced as part of Innovate UK’s third round of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Funding in March – is a 30-month, collaborative programme designed to bring together automotive, IT, and academic expertise to deliver highly capable self-driving vehicles for the UK.
Chris Holmes, connected and autonomous vehicle research manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “It’s important that we develop our self-driving vehicles with the same capability and performance that customers expect from all Jaguars and Land Rovers.
“Self-driving is an inevitability for the automotive industry, and ensuring that our autonomous offering is the most enjoyable, capable, and safe is what drives us to explore the boundaries of innovation. CORTEX gives us the opportunity to work with some fantastic partners whose expertise will help us realise this vision in the near future.”
- From 2020 all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles will be electrified, according to the company.
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The programme is evidence that self-driving technologies may go off road as well as to the city limits and beyond. The long-term implications of ‘go anywhere’ autonomous travel are intriguing, but beg the question as to why sports utility vehicles – which are generally designed to give human drivers pleasure – might need to be fully autonomous, rather than merely assist drivers and keep them safe.