A UK testbed for driverless vehicles

By: Smart Oxford


An Oxfordshire-based consortium is conducting a study to test the feasibility of the Culham Science Centre, just south of Oxford, as a UK test location for driverless vehicles.

PAVE (People in Autonomous Vehicles in Urban Environments) has received funding for the study from the Government, via the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and Innovate UK.

Culham Science Centre has a history of being at the forefront of scientific research and is already home to a number of companies who use robotics as part of their daily work, including the testing of driverless vehicles.

There are realistic road conditions at the Culham site which make the centre ideal for such testing, but with the additional enefit that the roads are private, which avoids the headaches of testing on public roads, with the legal and logistic ramifications – including road closures, road works and temporary diversions that happen on public highways.  

Because the Culham centre is fenced off and private, driverless technology can be tested there with minimal risk to the general public.

The group will also be carrying out a feasibility study to test public perceptions towards driverless vehicles in recognition of ongoing public apprehension. The findings of the research project could inform future Government policies and decisions related to driverless cars over the coming decades.

Members of the PAVE consortium (People in Autonomous Vehicles in Urban Environments) include RACE (UKAEA), Amey, Westbourne Communications, Siemens, RACE and Oxbotica, a spin-out from Oxford University’s internationally acclaimed Mobile Robotics Group.