Self-driving cars have taken another leap forward with the news that an autonomous Range Rover Sport has managed to navigate itself round the vehicular hell that is the Coventry ring road.
Jaguar Land Rover completed the demo as part of UK Autodrive, a £20m government-backed project to prepare the UK for self-driving cars. The three-year project concluded this week with a three-day plethora of demonstrations, including the Range Rover's jaunt to Coventry as well as similar expeditions to Milton Keynes and the Horiba MIRA testing track in Nuneaton.
Here it is in action:
The prototype vehicle managed to successfully change lanes, merge with traffic and exit junctions on the ring road within the 40mph speed limit, becoming the first ever self-driving car to complete the circuit.
Mark Cund, Jaguar Land Rover's manager of autonomous vehicle research, explains why Coventry:
"The Coventry Ring Road is known for its complicated slip roads and exits. It makes for very challenging conditions, especially when under pressure in the rush hour.
Our self-driving car is not impacted by the same pressure, frustrations or fatigue that a driver may experience and so it’s capable of turning a potentially very stressful situation into a completely stress-free one."
The Range Rover Sport was apparently chosen because it already includes features like adaptive cruise control, which were then supplemented with location sensors, radar and lidar (laser radar).
The modified Range Rover won't be available to the public anytime soon, but it's still an exciting time for anyone who doesn't want to deal with traffic ever again. Which is everyone.