CAVIAR (Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Infrastructure Appraisal Readiness)

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Over the next twenty-five years, a growing proportion of new car sales in the United Kingdom are expected to incorporate advanced functions which allow the cars to drive themselves under certain conditions. Automotive manufacturers are investing heavily in these connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs). These investments cover the development of advanced camera and sensor systems to allow the vehicles to accurately detect road conditions as well as software programmes which control driving behaviour. However, little attention is being given to how road environments may need to adapt to make them suitable to the operation of autonomous cars. This project responds to this gap in understanding by determining how the structure of motorways may impact CAV operation. In phase one of this project we were able to determine that there is no other current research into how infrastructure will need to evolve for the CAV era. We subsequently used existing data to identify three key infrastructure areas which may cause difficulties for CAVs in the future: The presence of lane markings The design of junctions Roadworks We then used an advanced simulation platform to test how autonomous vehicles would to determine what implications these elements of infrastructure may have for the safe and reliable use of autonomous cars. Having concluded that CAVs may struggle in these areas we will now look to develop recommendations to Highways England for future infrastructure design. To conduct these appraisals, a system will be developed which can accurately simulate the operation of autonomous cars in motorway environments and consider how they interact with the road environment and other road users. Our conclusions from these simulations will then be tested in a real world environment. The outcomes of this project will assist in both the design of new motorways and the operation of existing motorways by allowing engineers to model different situations and determine how changes to the motorway structure can improve key issues such as driver safety and road congestion.
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