Nissan Takes Lead on Self-Driving Performance Test

The U.K. project aims to see how self-driving vehicles perform outside cities and in less connected areas

Graham Hope

October 6, 2023

3 Min Read
An electric Nissan Leaf car fitted with the company’s autonomous drive tech

Nissan is spearheading a new self-driving project in the United Kingdom that will test autonomous cars on residential and rural roads.

The evolvAD research initiative is being funded by the U.K. government to assess how self-driving vehicles perform outside of major urban population centers and in less connected areas.

It will see electric Nissan Leaf cars fitted with the company’s autonomous drive tech being put through their paces in challenging environments. All the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) participating in the evolvAD project will be thoroughly tested in simulation and on test tracks before being allowed on public roads. 

According to Nissan, the test zones will include residential areas  consisting of narrow roads and single lanes with parked vehicles on either side, where slow driving speeds are common. Winding rural roads with higher driving speeds and no road markings will also be tackled. 

The project will last for 21 months, with Nissan acting as the technical lead alongside four other consortium partners – Connected Places Catapult, Humanising Autonomy, SBD Automotive and the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), who offer expertise in distinct areas.

Connected Places Catapult uses machine-learning techniques to generate high-definition maps from aerial imagery; Humanising Autonomy provides tech that predicts the behavior of other road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists; SBD Automotive offers on-board cyber security; and TRL delivers vehicle system validation processes. 

Related:Nissan Tests Collision Avoidance Tech for Self-Driving Cars

Ultimately, the goal of the evolvAD project is to ensure the U.K. is ready for the mass deployment of AVs for supply chain use.

Another element of the program will see the Nissan Leafs make use of infrastructure such as CCTV in residential areas to receive information to help improve situational awareness. This will be assessed as part of a test study into how vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) tech can improve AVs’ performance.

“We are extremely proud to be a part of the evolvAD project in the U.K., working alongside some brilliant partners to test and trial our technology further,” said David Moss, senior vice president at Nissan. “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.”

The U.K. Minister for Industry and Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani, added: “This research project will help develop [self-driving] 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.”

Related:Self-Driving Trial Suggests Traffic Lights Could Become Obsolete

Nissan is a major player in the U.K., with a huge manufacturing facility in the city of Sunderland and a well-established European research and development base in Cranfield, Bedfordshire. It hopes evolvAD will build on the success of previous autonomous driving projects it has been taking part in across the U.K., including ServCity earlier this year, which looked into infrastructure requirements.

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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