Emergent Tech

It knows where the gravel pits and power lines are. So, Ordnance Survey, where should UK's driverless cars go?

Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map…

By Richard Priday


UK cartographer the Ordnance Survey (OS) has been selected by the government to help it create an infrastructure for driverless cars.

With £750,000 from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, OS's "E-CAVE" intends to develop an infrastructure with "open standards and architecture" focusing on "positioning and safety".

"E-CAVE will be looking at how CAVs [connected and autonomous vehicles] will be exchanging safety-related messages between themselves and their supporting systems," an OS spokesman said. "OS will be providing expertise, advice and evidence-based insights with a view to helping uplift the test beds capability for the UK."

OS has some experience of this from the "Atlas initiative", a project started in 2016 with a team of companies including the Transport Research Laboratory and Sony Europe, fuelled by £20m of the previous government's funding.

Over the project's four-year life, OS will be assisted by "industrial and academic partners" along with the government-backed self-driving testers Innovate UK, CCAV and Meridian.

Before the Autumn Budget, Chancellor Phillip Hammond said that he wanted to have fully automated vehicles on the roads of Britain by 2021. It was a target met with both enthusiasm and scepticism by those in the industry, with OS's apparent 2022 deadline perhaps indicating that the time-scale is being slowly nudged backwards by the government.

OS CEO Nigel Clifford said of E-CAVE in a statement: "This project will provide the UK government with evidence-based insights to speed up the deployment of connected environments in the UK."

Business secretary Greg Clarke said: "With its centuries of experience in mapping and its status as a big data powerhouse, Ordnance Survey's new project will make a valuable contribution to us achieving our bold ambitions." ®

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