The VENTURER Project

VENTURER

Leveraging state-of-the-art technologies, industry expertise and world-class academic research, the £5million VENTURER research and development project has over the last three years established the West of England as a centre of excellence for the safe user-led trialling of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology.

Drawing on its rich partnership of public, private and academic experts, VENTURER systematically assessed road users’ responses to the introduction of driverless cars, using a series of increasingly complex scenarios, to understand the blockers and drivers to wide-scale adoption of CAV capability. Enabled by its technical know-how, the project’s trials and studies provide a clear picture of the challenges around public acceptance and behaviour, as well as the legal and insurance implications of increased vehicle autonomy.

VENTURER conducted its trials using both realistic simulation environments and a controlled road network.

Background

Co-funded by government and industry, VENTURER brought together a rich partnership of public, private and academic experts in the West of England. The project partners (listed below) deployed a combination of state of the art technologies, industry expertise and world-class academic research to develop market-leading capabilities.

The main objectives of the project were to:

  1. Understand the blockers and drivers to the wide-scale adoption of CAV capability, including public acceptance.
  2. Develop an understanding of the insurance and legal implications of increased vehicle autonomy.
  3. Develop a range of CAV technologies, including a fully immersive CAV simulator.

Achievements

VENTURER delivered ground-breaking results that will affect how CAVs are deployed onto public roads. The project’s key achievements include:

  1. Increasing the knowledge of the potential effects and requirements for the successful adoption of CAVs in the UK.
  2. Enabling the development of a more flexible regulatory framework for CAVs in the UK.
  3. Developing insight into public acceptance challenges through social research.
  4. Developing a successful method for the delivery of safe CAV trials.
  5. Establishing lasting relationships resulting in a regional cluster of CAV knowledge and expertise in the West of England.

During the project, CAV technologies and capabilities were developed that will help to advance the UK’s ambition to be a world leader in CAV development and deployment. These technologies and capabilities are available through the VENTURER Alliance.

You can read more about the project’s achievements in the Reports and Findings section, and learn about the VENTURER Alliance in the Alliance section.

Approach

To deliver its objectives, VENTURER undertook a series of CAV trials involving members of the public. VENTURER also engaged in a wide programme of public engagement.

The VENTURER user and technology trials took place at the University of the West of England Bristol’s campus, using both a realistic simulation environment and an on-road CAV deployed on a controlled road network. The trials included:

  1. Trial 1: Testing the planned handover of control between a vehicle and a driver.
  2. Trial 2: Exploring the interactions between a CAV and conventional vehicles at junctions.
  3. Trial 3: Investigating trust in CAVs during interactions with other road users, such as cyclists pedestrians. Trial 3 also involved the UK’s first on-road demonstration of a CAV interacting with a bus.

Further to the trials, VENTURER undertook social research into the public acceptability of CAVs and researched the legal and insurance aspects of CAV deployment.

The results of the trials, social research and legal and insurance research can be found in the Reports and Findings section.

Further to this, VENTURER also conducted a public pod demonstration at Millennium Square in Bristol city centre and three showcase events.

Partners Involved in the VENTURER Project

The VENTURER project was made up of organisations from various sectors. Click on the logos below to find out about the role of each partner.

The University of Bristol’s Communications Systems & Networks Group (CSN) combines fundamental research with a high level of industrial application in wireless communications. Recent work in transportation includes a First Great Western funded project on High Capacity Future Communications with Trains, a Jaguar Land Rover funded project on Vehicle Communications and the Innovate UK project FLOURISH. 

Role

The University of Bristol provided V2X communications expertise.

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Bristol City Council is the local authority of Bristol, the eighth most populous city in the UK and one of Britain’s ten ‘Core Cities’. Bristol was the 2015 European Green Capital and has a strong reputation as a leading sustainable city in the UK and Europe. The Bristol region has many leading companies in creative media, electronics and aerospace industries including Aardman Animations, Toshiba and Airbus. Bristol has made a clear commitment to create a world-class and inclusive green-digital economy. It aims to use smart technologies and digital connectivity to meet the city’s environmental, social and economic challenges and opportunities.

Role

Bristol City Council facilitated access to public roads and local road network intelligence.

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AXA UK (AXA) is part of the AXA Group, a worldwide leader in financial services. AXA has 11 million customers in the UK. Globally, AXA operates in 64 countries with over 165,000 employees and 103 million customers.

AXA UK is part of five Government backed driverless cars projects and is leading the way to ensure that insurance is an enabler of this potentially life-saving technology.

Role

AXA provided insurance expertise.

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Part of the First Group, a leader in road and rail transport. First Bristol provides public transport to the cities of Bristol and Bath. 1,700 staff, including 1,300 drivers, and 558 vehicles carry 45 million passengers and travel 23 million miles each year. 

Role

As part of the work being done around driver assistance technologies, First Bus provided a bus as a means of collecting data. 

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The University of the West of England’s Centre for Transport and Society (CTS) specialises in understanding the interactions between mobility, lifestyles and society in a context of technological change. Driverless vehicles are relevant to all seven of its focus areas: technologies; environment; car-society interactions; inclusive, low carbon travel; mobility and the ageing population; sustainable mobility strategies; influences on attitudes and behaviours.

Role

The University of the West of England was responsible for conducting research into public expectations, acceptance and response to driverless vehicles.

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SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business is one of the world’s most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies. Atkins has extensive experience managing the design and delivery of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) trials in the UK. Atkins’ team combines project management and consultancy services to enable its clients to thrive in the market for CAVs and associated technologies.

Role

Atkins was lead partner of the VENTURER consortium providing project co-ordination, delivery and intelligent mobility expertise. 

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Fusion Processing Ltd is a privately held technology company, designing intelligent systems that combine advanced processing techniques with the inputs of radar sensors, image sensors and other devices. Fusion Processing’s team includes experts in radar processing, image processing, vehicle systems and vehicle operations. Fusion Processing has developed proprietary techniques and Intellectual Property to provide driver aids with superior situational awareness. 

Role 

Fusion Processing provided intelligent sensing and situational awareness systems.

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South Gloucestershire is one of the largest Unitary Authorities in the South West and is a base for many world-leading companies in key high growth sectors vital to the national economy,  such as aerospace, advanced engineering, defence, micro-electronics and semiconductor design. Large technology employers include Airbus in the UK, GKN Aerospace, Rolls Royce and BAE Systems to name but a few. Innovative new companies include Nvidia and Ultra PRT. South Gloucestershire is also home to the Bristol and Bath Science Park, a world class environment for businesses in science and advanced technology.

Role 

South Gloucestershire Council facilitated access to public roads and local road network intelligence.

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Williams Advanced Engineering (Williams) is the technology and engineering services business of the Williams Group. Williams provide world-class technical innovation, engineering, testing, and manufacturing services to deliver energy efficient performance to the automotive, motorsport, transport and energy sectors. Williams specialise in advanced lightweight materials, hybrid power, cutting edge aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics, and holistic integration capabilities. 

Role 

Williams provided driving simulator expertise.

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BAE Systems (BAE) is a global defence, aerospace and security company. BAE provide some of the world’s most advanced, technology-led defence, aerospace and security solutions and employ a skilled workforce of some 83,400 people in over 40 countries. Working with customers and local partners, BAE develop, engineer, manufacture and support products and systems to deliver military capability, protect national security and people and keep critical information and infrastructure secure. 

Role 

BAE provided the driverless vehicle used for the trials. 

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Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) is the most comprehensive academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK, an internationally recognised Centre of Excellence. It is a collaborative partnership between the University of the West of England and the University of  Bristol, with 100 academics and industry practitioners, working on all areas of robotics and autonomous systems.

Role

BRL hosted the trial centre and provided systems integration and decision-making algorithms.

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Supporting Partners

Burges Salmon is an independent UK law firm delivering the best mix of advice, service and value. Its collaborative culture and transport sector strength allows Burges Salmon to bring cross-modal experience to solving issues for its clients. Burges Salmon advise in a range of legal areas including connected and autonomous vehicles / driverless cars; smart infrastructure and new technology; data protection and cybercrime; road infrastructure and construction; joint ventures and project delivery.

Role

Burges Salmon provided input on legal and regulatory matters.

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