A new project funded by Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) aims to halt motorway pileups.
The project is called Multi-Car Collision Avoidance (MuCCA) and is being led by a consortium including Applus Idiada, Cranfield University, Westfield Sports Cars, Cosworth, SBD Automotive, and Connected Places Catapult.
Rachel Maclean MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Transport, said:
“The potential of self-driving vehicle technology is unprecedented and could help to level up transport across the nation by making everyday journeys greener, safer, more flexible, and more reliable.
The MuCCA project is yet further proof of the UK leading the way in the safe and secure development of self-driving vehicle technology.”
The technology behind MuCCA is a combination of Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and AI. Autonomous vehicles speak to each other and an AI helps to make decisions based on their communications to avoid potential incidents.
If a vehicle detects an incident, the information is shared with nearby cars. This data helps the AI to determine the best manoeuvres to avoid the incident safely and get back on the correct route.
Vehicles equipped with MuCCA also communicate their location with each other in order to avoid any dangerous braking which may have caused others to collide.
Charlie Wartnaby, technical lead at Applus IDIADA UK, explained:
“The MuCCA project has delivered a world-first, achieving collective collision avoidance behaviour between real cars, in a clear demonstration of fully automated cooperative control mediated by vehicle-to-vehicle radio.
Combining connectivity and automated driving like this has applications beyond the valuable emergency role proven here to more general cooperative vehicle movement, promising enhanced safety and efficiency on our roads in future.
This places the UK at the commercial forefront of driving technology that will benefit all of society.”
Motorway pileups can often be fatal or result in life-changing injuries, preventing these will always be the biggest priority. However, even relatively minor accidents on the motorway can end up causing severe delays.
While the UK has some of the statistically safest roads in the world, there are still around 4,500 accidents per year on the nation’s motorways which lead to approximately 1,700 annual deaths and over 22,000 serious injuries.
Furthermore, the delays caused by incidents on the motorways have economic consequences estimated to be around £8 billion per year.
If MuCCA only helped to save a few lives, it would still be worth it. However, the technology looks set to save a lot more while also helping to boost the economy.
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