Here are some frequently asked questions about the VENTURER Alliance.

What is the purpose of the VENTURER Alliance?

The VENTURER Alliance has been set up to continue the pioneering work of the innovative £5-million UK government co-funded VENTURER research and development project. It is supporting the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) in the UK by progressing the project’s learnings about the impact of CAVs on the user, technology and the regulatory environment.

What makes VENTURER such a stand-out project?

VENTURER understood the value and importance of engaging with a wide variety of CAV stakeholders. During the three-year project, the VENTURER team engaged with over 20,000 members of the UK public, through the VENTURER trials, demonstrations, events and social research. STEM engagement and online studies ensured that VENTURER was able to reach a broad range of age and social groups.

Can you tell us more about the focus of the original project?

Based in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, VENTURER investigated the barriers to the adoption of CAVs in the UK. The project systematically assessed road users’ responses to the introduction of driverless cars through a series of increasingly complex trials. It also focused on developing a greater understanding of public acceptance and behaviour, as well as the legal and insurance implications of increased vehicle autonomy. Click here to learn more about the project.

What were the key learnings from the original VENTURER project?

The final VENTURER report will be launched in September 2018 and will share the cumulative learnings from the project’s three years of trials and research activities. These learnings will be drawn from its three user-led technology trials, its social research and its three legal and insurance reports.

Key achievements include:

  • The successful testing of the planned handover of control between a vehicle and a driver
  • The successful testing of the interaction at a junction between a CAV and conventional vehicles at link roads and at junctions
  • The successful testing of the interaction of a CAV with other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and a bus
  • Insights into the public acceptance challenges of CAVs, gained through social research
  • The role VENTURER played in developing a more flexible regulatory framework for CAVs
  • The regional cluster of CAV knowledge and expertise which the project enabled
  • That the West of England is now known as a centre of excellence for the safe trialling of CAV technology.

Why is it important for the original project partners to keep working together?

VENTURER demonstrated the importance of the inter-dependencies between human factors research, social research, insurance and legal requirements and technology development for deepening our understanding of how driverless cars could be introduced safely onto UK roads.

The members of the VENTURER Alliance, drawn from the original project family, have a highly successful track record of working together to deliver meaningful results which can help government and industry to put the user at the heart of the implementation and integration of CAVs in the UK.

How can the VENTURER Alliance help to get us closer to deploying CAVs on the UK’s roads?

Uniquely, the original project adopted a holistic approach to its research and development activities, exploring the changes in attitude and approach which would be required to put the user at the heart of the delivery of CAVs in the UK.

The VENTURER Alliance leverages the expertise and capabilities acquired during the project to offer customers a diverse range of services spanning technology, human factors, social research, legal and insurance.

They include both individual and collective expertise to:

  • Support the ongoing design, testing, trialling, integration and deployment of CAVs on the UK transport network
  • Explore the potential impact of CAVs on UK society and infrastructure.

How many organisations are in it?

The VENTURER Alliance is made up of the project’s founding members and includes Atkins (a member of the SNC-Lavalin group), AXA UK, BAE Systems, Bristol City Council, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Burges Salmon LLP, Fusion Processing, South Gloucestershire Council, University of Bristol, University of the West of England and Williams Advanced Engineering.

How did VENTURER ensure the safety of pedestrians and other road users during its trials?

In all the VENTURER trials and demonstration, the safety of the participants, trial team and general public, was critical. All testing and trials conducted by VENTURER complied with the Department for Transport’s Code of Practice for AV testing and implemented comprehensive risk assessments and safety cases.

What are VENTURER’s main technical achievements?

The success of the VENTURER project was largely dependent on the integration of a wide range of technology components. These included an automated vehicle, novel sensors, a flexible autonomy framework and new V2X communications hardware. Collaborative working between the VENTURER partners enabled these components to be tested and validated to achieve a flexible autonomous driving capability for the project’s trials and demonstration. Brought together with careful trial design and logistics, this delivered repeatable, reliable autonomous driving experiences for approximately 200 public participants and a unique demonstration of CAV driving on an open road.

How did the project promote the development of the legal and insurance policy environment to support the introduction of CAV technology?

The knowledge developed in the VENTURER project is influencing emerging policy and regulation, such as the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill. The Bill has begun to address some key insurance questions by extending the compulsory motor insurance regime to automated vehicles driving themselves. The insight gained from VENTURER highlights that the early input of the insurance and legal industry is essential for the adoption of CAVs within a flexible appropriate and timely regulatory framework, which is adaptive as CAV technology and uptake develops.

In what way will VENTURER leave a lasting legacy for the region?

The West of England has always been recognised as a highly-skilled area with a range of specialist industries related to technology and engineering development however, VENTURER has been a catalyst for the development of a CAV cluster in the region, building on the existing skills and expertise. The impacts of VENTURER on the growth of the CAV cluster in the West of England are well established and the VENTURER Alliance is committed to supporting this into the future.