FLOURISH: The Future of Mobility
18 December 2018
FLOURISH is a £5.5 million government and industry co-funded project, based in the West of England. As a consortium made up of partners from large and small businesses, universities, local authorities and the not-for-profit sector, the FLOURISH partners are working collaboratively to advance the case for the implementation of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) on the UK road network and to harness CAV technology to enhance and enable mobility, especially for socially isolated groups, including older adults and those with age-related conditions – but why are we doing this?
We face challenging times: as a society, there is an increasing proportion of the population living in highly congested urban centres and we know that air pollution contributes to 40,000 premature deaths per year in the UK alone. Congestion cost the average UK driver £1200 in 2017. This is notwithstanding the very sobering fact that over 90% of all car accidents are the result in one way or another of human error. We know that CAVs can provide a solution to these challenges, but this crucially requires engagement of the public with the technology, to ensure that we can collectively reap the benefits of the technical feats we have achieved.
FLOURISH – Our work towards solving these challenges
To help solve these challenges, FLOURISH is developing an understanding of:
- How social research and user engagement can be exploited to understand user needs and expectations of their interface with CAVs, ensuring we are developing a system that works for society.
- How data can be applied in the future to optimise the running and efficiency of local and regional transport networks.
- How we can deploy a cyber-secure and resilient communications channel between CAVs and the roadside infrastructure.
- How the regulatory environment needs to adapt to create an environment in which user rights are protected.
As a project, we are committed to developing services and products which maximise the benefits of CAVs for users and transport authorities. We understand that it is vital to let users shape the design of the interfaces they will use to interact with CAVs, if the technology is to be publicly accepted and trusted, and, in the future, a critical mass of the population is to embrace it. In the case of FLOURISH, we chose to make older adults our case study focus.
In total, during the course of FLOURISH, we are carrying eight trials, including three simulator, two pod and three car trials. We are adopting a holistic approach to exploring the roll-out of CAVs onto our roads, to ensure all elements, from the user to the vehicle and city level, are considered in a safe and secure manner.
We are using the simulator and pod trials to gauge participants’ views of the kind of interface to the CAV they would like to use and to validate our findings to ensure they are representative.
The car trials have investigated the conditions required for the implementation of a CAV network, focusing on cyber-secure communications between CAVs and roadside infrastructure. This has included generating a better understanding of the distances messages are able to travel between the vehicle and roadside units and transmission reliability, as well as the time it takes for messages to be received. These trials have provided us with a deeper understanding of the technologies and message management requirements to provide safe and secure communication services for CAVs.
Our network is at a bursting point and we therefore need to exploit technologies which enable us to safely carry more people on our roads to respond to the challenges posed by urbanisation. Such technologies would allow vehicles to respond in real time to traffic flow, blockages or other impediments, setting for example the most efficient route to their destination.
Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done before we can get to the point where CAVs can be rolled out en masse. Therefore, the FLOURISH partners have been exploring what the regulatory industry needs to do to make sure that CAV users have confidence that they will have the same rights and protections when using a CAV, as they would when using any form of human-driven vehicle.
Additionally, through our trials, FLOURISH is consolidating and extending the position of the West of England as a centre of excellence for the safe trialling and testing of CAV technology. Safe trialling and testing is key for the deployment of CAVs on our roads and to build trust among prospective users.
Connected and autonomous vehicles are expected to become an integral part of our future. It is clear that there are a number of technical hurdles to be overcome before we can securely and safely make CAVs a reality. Yet one of the biggest potential blockers to the adoption of CAVs may well be social acceptance and trust.
That is why it is so vital to extensively engage with the public, to get the public involved in trial activities and social research such as in FLOURISH, as well as through events such as our showcase and media events. CAVs and the integration of our physical, digital and commercial worlds are at the core of the fourth Industrial Revolution. Jointly and collaboratively, not only with stakeholders from the transportation sector, but also other sectors such as the healthcare sector, the office sector and the leisure industry to mention but a few, we can generate the desired socio-economic outcomes in terms of safety, congestion and the environment. FLOURISH is a key part of that solution.
To carry on the conversation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Dr Wolfgang Schuster, FLOURISH Technical Director
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