Project Encode demonstrates live switching between manual driving, self-driving and teleoperation in Oxford and London.

Another UK self-driving 1st: Project Encode demonstrates transfer of control between manual, autonomous and teleoperation

In another UK self-driving first, Project Encode recently demonstrated transfer of control across three states – manual driving, autonomous driving and teleoperation – in live vehicle tests in Oxford and London.

Backed by the DfT’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) – like CAVForth – and Innovate UK, partners in the project included technology specialist StreetDrone, IoT security company Angoka, Coventry University and Oxfordshire County Council.

Manual to self-driving to remote operation

The aim was to illustrate how automation can be progressively introduced into industrial settings, with autonomous systems managing the more straightforward vehicle operations and remote drivers stepping in to handle more complex tasks as necessary.

Project Encode demonstration video 

The consortium says this proof of concept – delivering transferable responsibility for vehicle control in a cyber-secure context – is central to advancing the application of driverless and teleoperated vehicles across logistics networks.

Official comments

StreetDrone CEO, Mike Potts, said: “The success of this trial, conducted not in a controlled environment but out on the public highway, is blending autonomous technologies with teleoperation to prove an advanced level of technology readiness that can deliver much-needed efficiencies into the supply chain.

“Where tasks are too complex for autonomous technologies, teleoperations steps in. This integration provides a ‘ready-now’ solution and it has been a sight to behold.”

Project Encode – manual driving, self-driving and teleoperation
Project Encode – manual driving, self-driving and teleoperation

Dr Giedre Sabaliauskaite, Associate Professor at Coventry University’s Systems Security Group, part of the Centre for Future Transport and Cities (CFTC), added: “It is very important security assurance processes are addressed through the design and engineering cycle.

“This demonstration through the Encode project offers an opportunity to establish a rigorous assurance cycle, ultimately for wider public acceptance.”

Neil Kennett reviews the CAM Innovators self-driving industry event in London, March 2022

Self-driving event report #1 2022: CAM Innovators living the future mobility dream

As my first industry do in London for two years, the Zenzic Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) Innovators event 2022 was always going to be memorable. Actually, it was much better than that. It was a fantastic day packed with astute analysis and exciting announcements about self-driving in the UK.

It was also a reminder of the shared vision – the belief that we’re on the cusp of something momentous, that this technology can deliver seismic safety and societal benefits. And this is no pipedream. Thanks to a lot of hard work over many years by an array of seriously talented people, there’s a detailed Roadmap of exactly how we’ll get there.

Let’s talk self-driving

For starters, we couldn’t have wished for a more impressive venue – The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on The Embankment, near Waterloo Bridge. Passing the statue of Michael Faraday, the father of electromagnetism, I bumped into a former colleague before I’d even reached the front door. How nice to see Tom Flisher of Thatcham – a real live human – after all the remote communications of the pandemic.

Hands up, I missed the morning sessions on cyber resilience, vehicle to everything (V2X) and the Interoperable Simulation project. Catching the fast train in to London to attend a real world event is, admittedly, more time consuming and expensive than clicking into a Teams meeting.

We’ll look at the Interoperable Simulation project in more detail another day as it’s a prime example of joined-up thinking, designed to enable seamless testing across the CAM Testbed UK facilities.

The main reason for attending, I thought, was to hear about the latest six UK-based companies selected for Zenzic’s CAM Scale-Up Programme – a business accelerator for almost ready-for-market products and services that can “meet required safety standards and operate in real-world environments”. There’s also the small matter of sharing £500,000 of government funding.

Of the six winners announced in October 2021, four are London-based: geolocation solution provider Albora; Intelligent CCTV designer Exeros; sensor fusion system developer Grayscale AI; and insurance claims visualiser Xtract 360. The other two are: Cambridge-based vulnerable road user safety specialist R4DAR; and Cardiff-based real-time movement experts Route Konnect.

Each will be supported by the UK government – via the Department for Transport’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) – and innovation platform Plug and Play. They’ll get time at the testbeds, benefit from introductions to corporate partners (including Honda, Thales and Vodafone), and gain access to a global network investor platform. Watch this space for in-depth profiles.

The curious among you will have noted the “I thought” a couple of paragraphs ago. Of course, hearing from these exceptional innovators was great, but the best was yet to come.

Wired editor and futurist Jeremy White talks self-driving at the CAM Innovators event 2022
Wired editor and futurist Jeremy White talks self-driving at the CAM Innovators event 2022

Following an entertaining whip through automotive history with Wired editor and futurist Jeremy White – who urged the self-driving industry to “hurry up!” and make connected and automated mobility a reality – we adjourned to the Haslett & Flowers room for networking drinks.

And that’s where the magic happened: Talking shop and shooting the breeze with people I’d just met, connected with on Linkedin, interviewed on Zoom, been on mute with for hours. That’s where you hear the backstories and inspirations, discover obscure but pertinent bits of information, and see early signs of the next big things.

A maelstrom of tech wizards and engineers, CEOs and interns, the odd safety campaigner and motoring hack, most cautious about over-promising but overwhelmingly excited and optimistic about the fast-approaching road transport revolution.

That’s what self-driving industry events are all about. That’s what we’ve been missing.

Carsofthefuture.co.uk editor Neil Kennett to moderate sessions on AI and self-driving at Auto Tech 2022

Reuters Auto Tech 2022: Carsofthefuture editor urges Tesla to emphasise safety-critical self-driving advice

On a mission to drive more sensible debate about self-driving, Carsofthefuture.co.uk has renewed its media partnership with Reuters Events for the Auto Tech 2022 digital conference on 14-15 June.

The prestigious two-day online event will enable technology providers and automotive companies to meet and do business with vehicle manufacturers (VMs) including Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Daimler, Fisker, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Opel and Toyota.

Confirmed speakers include Mercedes Benz Mobility chief executive Franz Reiner, Hyundai Motor Company chief safety officer Brian Latouf, Polestar chief operating officer Dennis Nobelius and Lucid Motors vice president of software validation Margaret Burgraff.

Self-driving and AI at Auto Tech 2022

As part of The Key Steps Towards Safer Roads programme on 15 June, Carsofthefuture.co.uk editor Neil Kennett will moderate two sessions: 1) “The Growing Presence of AI”, with Sammy Omari, vice president of autonomy at Motional, and; 2) “Where are we on the journey to full automation?”, with Xinzhou Wu, head of Xpeng Motors’ Autonomous Driving Centre.

The former will cover the value of artificial intelligence in testing cutting-edge systems and its role in autonomous vehicle (AV) decision making. The latter will cover autonomous driving, in-car connectivity and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), evaluating the progress made and exploring when carmakers expect to introduce fully automated features.

Carsofthefuture.co.uk editor, Neil Kennett, said: “I’m delighted to renew our partnership with Reuters and look forward to lively discussions about these phenomenal but controversial technologies. It’s a shame, given everything Tesla’s done for electric cars, that so many hyperbolic headlines are caused by its confusingly-named Full Self-Driving (FSD) package. It simply isn’t self-driving as the rest of the industry understands it.

Conflating assisted and automated driving is dangerous, because it risks drivers misunderstanding what their cars are capable of. News of so-called driverless car crashes then dents consumer confidence – the last thing the industry needs at such a crucial time in terms of public perception. These are safety-critical issues and utmost clarity is vital. For the near future at least, the best advice is that drivers need to be alert at all times.”

Nabil Awan, automotive conference producer at Reuters Events, added: “The moves towards greater connectivity and autonomy that we are seeing will lead to safer roads while also deeply transforming the auto industry as we know it today. Our unique Auto Tech 2022 event will give innovators and technology providers a chance to discuss the latest advances and come away with valuable intelligence with which to drive the evolution of the sector.”

Auto Tech 2022 self-driving and AI
Carsofthefuture editor will moderate sessions on self-driving and AI at Auto Tech 2022

For further information, visit reutersevents.com

Navtech Radar puts figures on the benefits of port automation including reduced operating expenses and labour costs

Navtech builds the business case for automation

Regular readers will recognise the name Navtech Radar from our recent update on Oxbotica. In May, the two Oxfordshire-based companies joined forces to launch Terran360, promoted as the world’s first all-weather radar localisation solution for industrial autonomous vehicles.

While self-driving cars await a legislative framework, this ground-breaking technology is already being deployed in off-road settings. Ports are a good example and Madelen Shepherd, Growth Marketing Manager at Navtech, sets out a strong business case.

MS: “Ports are complicated operations and automation can massively improve efficiency, so we’ve been doing some financial analysis on the quantification of value. The benefits fall into three main areas: 1) reduced operating expenses; 2) reduced labour requirements; and 3) productivity increases.”

According to Navtech’s research, benefits resulting from port automation include a 31% reduction in operating expenses, a 40% reduction in labour costs and a 21% increase in productivity.

Navtech on port automation
Automation at ports delivers significant cost savings

MS: “This kind of financial modelling is important for Navtech to demonstrate that our products are viable, but it also provides a compelling argument for automation in general.

“The findings are based on averages from multiple quotes, although there was quite a large range on the reduction in operating expenses, from around 25% up to 50%.

“Currently, only 3% of the world’s ports are automated, but the rate of growth is now exponential. Key drivers for this include the rise of megaships and increasing next day deliveries.

“About 80% of the world’s goods go through ports. There’s already time pressure on everything and the increasing global population equals ever increasing demand.  

“New ports are a massive investment. For example, the first phase of the Tuas project in Singapore, which will create the world’s largest container terminal, is nearly complete and has already cost $1.76bn. There are three more phases to come.

“Of course, any cost benefit analysis must also include risks. If you’re retrofitting an existing port, how much is installation going to disrupt operations? What about the social impact of job losses or a shift in employment profile? Are the new jobs higher paid or more secure? How much time and money would an infrastructure-free solution save in operational downtime during installation compared to an infrastructure dependent solution?

“Automation has created so-called ghost ports, which are largely human-free, so there are clear safety benefits. And with automation you get remote operation, so maybe one person can now operate two straddle carriers.

“Also, operating bulky vehicles like terminal tractors can require an additional member of staff to supervise the movement. By using technological solutions – installing sensors which act beyond human capabilities – that’s no longer necessary.

“Terran360, an infrastructure-free localisation solution, delivers a detailed 360-degree map made up of around 400 slices and uploads this to a cloud-based server. The vehicle drives down a route continually scanning all these different landmarks.

“We’re always looking for new partners in the shipping world and other industrial settings. This kind of radar is perfect for self-driving cars too, so that’s another exciting growth area.”