Autonomous vehicles – Venturer project

Year:2018

Duration:3 years

Cost:£5m

Country: Bristol, UK

What did this project achieve?

Find out whether anyone wants to be in a car that drives itself

Venturer is a research project on the future of transport systems – specifically connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), generally known as driverless cars.

The project examines the way that people accept CAVs. It also aims to see how motoring laws and the insurance industry will have to change for driverless cars to run on UK roads.

Driver error is a factor in around 90% of deaths and injuries on the road. Supporters of CAVs believe their widespread adoption could lead to safer highways. Other positives could be better air quality and less congestion.

The motor industry believes that technology is far in advance of the legal and insurance frameworks needed to get driverless cars on the roads. Venturer intends to help bridge that gap.

Difference the project has made

Venturer conducted 2 trial programmes by the end of 2017. Both contributed valuable knowledge to the future of CAVs.

The first trial looked at how long it took for people to take over driving from a CAV when road conditions became too complex for driverless systems. Tests on simulators and private roads found it was an average of around 3 seconds.

The second trial aimed to understand human response to CAV technology. Among the findings was that driverless cars may have to operate 'more cautiously than the average driver… to foster public trust'.

A third trial is set to test interaction between CAVs and other road users.

How the work was done

Project engineers conducted trials using a simulator in a laboratory and a CAV-adapted Land Rover. The Land Rover drove on campus roads around the University of the West of England in Bristol.

One of the tests aimed to measure user trust in CAVs. Participants were driven around a loop on campus roads at the university. A management system measured how much passengers trusted the CAV during specific manoeuvres.

The system measured trust for turning movements at junctions, both with and without an oncoming vehicle.

Other events included driving along a road and overtaking a parked car - also with and without an oncoming vehicle.

Participants were taken through the same events in the simulator.

"​‌

Autonomous driving is the next major battlefield for the car industry.

Luca Mentuccia

automotive global MD at Accenture

Fascinating facts

Around 33 tech and auto companies are currently developing CAV technology. They include Apple, Audi, BMW, Google, Tesla and Volkswagen.

CAVs are currently being tested in public parks in Singapore. Pedestrians have taken to jumping in front of them to see if they stop in time.

The UK government has pledged to have CAVs on the roads by 2021. Despite this enthusiasm for the new technology, a recent planned ride with an MP in a driverless car was ruled out by government aides as they thought it might turn into an unfortunate photo opportunity.

People who made it happen

  • Sponsors: Bristol city council, South Gloucestershire council.
  • The Venturer consortium is led by Atkins. Members include the University of Bristol, University of the West of England, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, BAE systems and insurance company AXA.
  • Supporting partner: industry lawyers Burges Salmon.

More about this project

Explore more civil engineering projects

I want to become a civil engineer.

See how your studies lead to a civil engineering career

The job you end up with in civil engineering is likely to link back to what you studied at school, college or university. Here you can see your options at any age.

At school

Up to 16 years

School / college

16-19 years

College / university

18 years +

Change career

Any age