Leveraging state-of-the-art technologies, industry expertise and world-class academic research, the £5 million VENTURER research and development project investigated the barriers to the adoption of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) in the UK. Enabled by its technical know-how and project trials, VENTURER has provided a clear picture of the challenges around public acceptance and behaviour, as well as the legal and insurance implications of increased vehicle autonomy. Based in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, VENTURER has also established the West of England as a centre of excellence for the safe user-led trialing of CAV technology, user behavioural response analysis, and social research.
In 2014, Innovate UK launched its first competition for collaborative research and development projects for driverless cars, to be part-funded by industry and Innovate UK. It is believed that driverless cars will unlock several potential benefits in everyday life, including:
- Improved safety.
- Optimised use of travel time.
- Improvements to transport network performance.
- Increased mobility, enhanced quality of life and improved social inclusion.
VENTURER was successful in this competition and became the first of the Four Cities Trials to launch in July 2015. The project, led by Atkins, represented a rich partnership of universities, large and small businesses and local authorities, which aimed to investigate the barriers to the adoption of CAVs in the UK.
VENTURER supported the deployment of CAVs on UK roads by:
- Delivering pioneering and safe trials enabling partners to assess the responses of passengers, other road users, and pedestrians to driverless cars. This included testing the planned handover between autonomous driving systems and the human driver, as would be required to achieve SAE Level 3 vehicle autonomy.
- Developing connected and autonomous technologies to facilitate successful real-world and simulated participant trials.
- Conducting social research to develop insight into public acceptance challenges associated with CAV technology.
- Informing the development of future CAV insurance and legal requirements using the findings from participant experiments and investigations. The findings from VENTURER were also used to inform the ‘Electric and Automated Vehicles Act 2018’.
Having adopted a holistic approach to the integration of CAVs, the findings of VENTURER were used to identify recommendations for introducing CAVs in the UK. These recommendations included:
- Further research with a broader variety of participants, assessed across a wider range of driving scenarios and driving conditions, using both the simulated and controlled on-road platforms.
- More complex trials involving multiple pedestrians, cyclists and motorised vehicles, and allowing for scenarios involving closer proximity between CAVs and road users.
- Further testing and design of CAV technology to enable the integration of CAVs into existing infrastructure assets.
- Key insurance and legal recommendations for insurers, the CAV industry and regulators.
Drawing on state-of-the-art technologies, industry expertise and world-class academic research, VENTURER has established the West of England as a centre of excellence for the safe trialing of CAV technology, user behavioural response analysis, and social research. Moreover, VENTURER’s achievements and learnings are helping the government to fulfill its Industrial Strategy – particularly the ‘Future of Mobility’ Grand Challenge. Since VENTURER concluded in June 2018, the VENTURER Alliance has been created to continue the pioneering work of the innovative project.
The VENTURER Alliance offers proven expertise and a commitment to working with industry and government to take the next steps towards CAV implementation. To achieve this, the Alliance leverages the expertise and capabilities acquired during the project to offer customers a diverse portfolio of services. These services span numerous disciplines including technology, human factors, social research, legal and insurance.
- Smarter Travel – Best CAV Project 2018
- Media recognition from several media outlets including BBC, ITV, The Times, The Independent, The Guardian and The Financial Times.
- “I am so proud to see the West of England at the forefront of CAV technology, hosting cutting edge projects such as VENTURER and FLOURISH.” – West of England Combined Authority Regional Mayor Tim Bowles, June 2019