Introduction

Vehicles capable of driving without human intervention are rapidly moving up the policy agenda. Driverless cars have advantages for safety, fuel economy and could be more environmentally friendly. Systems that monitor the road and alert the driver are being introduced on production cars, and autonomous vehicles have been demonstrated which are capable of automatic navigation, control and decision making. Road vehicles dominate global oil consumption and are one of the fastest growing end-users of energy. It is possible that if more of these vehicles were partially or fully controlled by automatic systems, they would be more fuel efficient, having a huge impact on reducing global non-renewable energy needs.

Task

Your task is to design a fuel-efficient autonomous road vehicle. It should monitor the operating conditions of the vehicle with appropriate sensors and provide feedback or control to maintain best driving performance. , You will need to design a control strategy incorporating relevant actuators and feedback. Actuators will also need to be specified to perform the basic functions required, such as braking, acceleration or steering. These tasks will be performed by an onboard computer. It also needs to be aware of its surroundings, in order to obey local traffic laws and interact safely with other vehicles and pedestrians.

The vehicle must also be robust in terms of safety and able to operate on UK roads whilst performing all the functions of a normal car.

Considerations

What level of autonomy will the car have, particularly considering safety requirements? Are there any new safety concerns resulting from automation? Can these be eliminated or reduced by the design?

What driving behaviours increase vehicle fuel efficiency? What engine management techniques can reduce energy use? Are there any other aspects of the vehicle design you would change to aid in fuel efficiency, and how will you power your car?

Can changing routes help with fuel efficiency? If so, how would you carry out accurate navigation, incorporating environmental data to provide a dynamic system that can adapt routes and respond to obstacles in real time?

What types of sensors should be considered? What are the advantages and limitations of current technologies? Will you attempt to predict and respond to the behaviour of other road users?

Are there any practical constraints or considerations have to be taken with respect to operating on the roads of the UK? How can you encourage people to accept this technology?