evolvAD, the UK’s newest autonomous driving research project backed by Nissan and funded by the UK Government, has officially got underway.
With the aim of enhancing the UK’s autonomous drive capability and technically supporting the supply chain’s readiness for mass adoption, evolvAD will put Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV), through their paces on a variety of urban residential and complex rural roads. These types of roads present their own unique set of challenges for AD technology. For example, in residential areas, drivers often face narrows roads, single lanes with parked vehicles on either side and slow driving speeds. Rural roads can include similar conditions but with higher driving speeds and winding roads with little to no road markings.
Delivered by a consortium of five industry partners including Nissan as technical lead, the research project is jointly funded by government and the consortium partners, the government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility fund is administered by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and delivered by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.
Over the course of the next 21 months, the evolvAD project will use the combined expertise of the five partners – Nissan, Connected Places Catapult, Humanising Autonomy, SBD Automotive and TRL – to technically support UK supply chain readiness for future mass deployment of AD technologies in the UK. This comprises several focus areas designed to advance the UK’s autonomous drive capability including Nissan’s work to trial advanced AD technology in built-up residential areas in collaboration with TRL.
Utilising infrastructure such as CCTV in residential areas, the evolvAD CAVs will be able to receive information to improve situational awareness, creating a test study on how vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) technologies can be used to enhance the performance of CAVs. The project will also look to develop new V2I technologies to further support the deployment of autonomous drive vehicles. Furthermore, Nissan will trial the technology on complex rural roads and explore what transport opportunities autonomous mobility can provide to A roads and minor roads that are mostly found within rural and intercity communities.
Commencing in July 2023, the project is already underway in the development phase, using 100% electric Nissan LEAFs as the test vehicles. The vehicles will be tested in simulation and on private test tracks before the evolvAD CAVs are put through their paces on live roads in the coming months.
Through evolvAD, Nissan will further enhance its autonomous drive technology and capability by testing and trialling it in other driving environments, building on the success of previous consortium AD research projects, HumanDrive and ServCity. Autonomous drive technology is key pillar within Nissan Ambition 2030, a long-term vision which will see the company strive to create a cleaner, safer and more inclusive world.
David Moss, Senior Vice President, Region Research & Development for Nissan AMIEO (Africa, Middle East, India, Europe, and Oceania) said: “We are extremely proud to be a part of the evolvAD project in the UK, working alongside some brilliant partners to test and trial our technology further.
“Through Nissan Ambition 2030 we want to empower mobility for everyone, and autonomous drive technologies are critical to this effort as they offer huge benefits in terms of vehicle safety, environmental impact and accessibility. As we celebrate 35 years of NTCE in the UK, we’re excited to get going with this next project that will help ensure we continue to deliver technology of the future that truly benefits our customers.”
Robert Bateman, evolvAD Project Manager and Manager of Nissan’s Research and Advanced Engineering team, Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE), said: “In our previous research projects, our AD team and partners have tackled highways and complex city environments. Now we move onto our next challenge – built up residential streets and rural roads.
“To bring autonomous driving to market, we must test and trial the technology on as many different road types as possible and that’s why projects like evolvAD are so important. Ultimately, we want to make driving cleaner, safer and more inclusive for everyone and we look forward to working with our consortium partners to deliver that.”
Minister for Industry and Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani, said: “Self-driving vehicles have the potential to transform how we get around, making journeys safer, cleaner and more accessible while also helping grow the economy by creating highly skilled jobs.
“This research project will help develop this technology and show that the UK is at the cutting edge in developing automated technology that is not only innovative but, crucially, has safety at its heart.”