Project Endeavour, a government-backed autonomous vehicle R&D project, has reached a key milestone as the first live vehicle trials are set to begin on roads in Oxford.

The development brings the deployment of commercial autonomous vehicles in the UK one step closer. The

Project will run until Autumn 2021 with live tests in three major UK cities. The trials will demonstrate autonomous driving in a variety of urban and city environments and will develop engagement models with local authorities and communities to help them prepare for the future launch of autonomous vehicle services.

The consortium, part-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK, is using a combination of advanced simulations and on-road demonstrations to help accelerate and scale the deployment and adoption of autonomous vehicles.

A fleet of six Ford Mondeo vehicles, enabled by Oxbotica to be capable of Level 4 autonomous driving, will complete a nine-mile round trip from Oxford Parkway station to Oxford’s main train station. Trials will be run at all times of day and night, allowing Oxbotica’s autonomous vehicles to experience a range of traffic scenarios from morning commutes to school runs, in a range of weather conditions.

Launched in September 2019, the project has brought together Oxbotica, a leader in autonomous software, urban innovators DG Cities and Immense, a leading transport simulation company. Ahead of the public trials, three new consortium partners have been added to Project Endeavour: the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), the British Standards Institution (BSI) and Oxfordshire County Council.

The trio of new partners will focus on the development of a new safety assurance assessment scheme against PAS 1881 standard for public autonomous trials, helping to inspire trust and defining a consistent approach to safety that will enable future deployments to happen efficiently without slowing down the rate of innovation.

Dr Graeme Smith, Senior Vice President at Oxbotica and Project Endeavour Consortium Director, said: “The first live on-road public trials mark a key landmark for Project Endeavour as we work with local authorities and members of the public in London, Oxford and other major UK cities to shape the future of mobility. Alongside our valued partners, we’re making autonomous vehicle services an everyday reality, right here in the UK.”