LIVEResearch Projects

Developing self-driving cars to give people the opportunity to travel independently

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Showing an older gentleman the controls in a car

This three year project, part funded by Innovate UK and the Road Safety Trust, brings together industry and academic experts in the field of autonomous and connected systems, cyber security, data innovation and social research.

What is needed

Ageing is often accompanied by physical and cognitive impairments, or long-term health conditions which, in turn, can limit access to the outside world without assistance. This can cause older people to feel withdrawn from society, leaving them without regular human contact which can have a detrimental impact on their health.

Older people who are unable to drive lack the ability to make spontaneous choices and may struggle to maintain their independence without the use of a car. This means that some older adults experience loneliness and reduced social activity.

The FLOURISH project aims to develop user-centric autonomous [driverless] vehicle technology and connected transport systems to enhance travel independence.

Who will benefit?

The development of driverless cars has the potential to transform the lives of isolated older adults through the creation of independent travel options.

Self-driving cars, as they are sometimes known, will help to address any barriers people may be facing through reduced mobility as they age.

Expected outcomes

  • People with mobility problems will feel empowered to make their own decisions about transportation and social life choices
  • Development of products and services that maximise the benefits of CAVs for users and transport authorities
  • Solve vulnerabilities in the technology powering CAVs, with a focus on the critical areas of cyber security and wireless communications
  • Create tools that enable vehicle manufacturers and transport authorities to create a safe and secure CAV network.

Our role in the project

Designability will be working with users and beneficiaries to develop Human Machine, or User, Interfaces for use in a vehicular environment.

We call carry out interviews, focus groups and user testing with older adults who have a range of needs and expectations to respond to people’s different accessibility requirements.

Real-world trials with older adults will also assess user experience and user interaction with the user interface, focussing on subjective, performance and physiological response measures. Experience of running trials will enable the development of a standard assessment framework to determine which user interface and vehicle adaptations are needed for different people.

Project partners

Atkins: lead partner providing project management, transport modelling and intelligent mobility expertise;

Age UK: a ‘critical friend’ to FLOURISH supporting the social research elements of the project;

Airbus Group Innovations: will offer its expertise in the technology areas of Model-based System Engineering, Cyber Security, Human-Machine Interfaces, Human State Monitoring, and Data Fusion;

Aiseedo: will provide artificial intelligence software that enables automated systems to make autonomous decisions and adapt to complex situations in real-time;

AXA: will provide insurance and legal expertise;

Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council: will provide on-road trials support and drive local community engagement;

Bristol Robotics Laboratory: will provide expertise in CAVs, control and systems integration;

Imtech Traffic & Infra: to develop and conduct on-road demonstrations of technology that enables vehicle-to-infrastructure communication and intelligent network operation of CAVs

OPM Group: will provide research support relating to user needs and public acceptance;

TSS-Transport Simulation Systems: to develop a network operations model for modelling CAVs using the Aimsun traffic simulation software;

Transport Systems Catapult: to develop Human Machine Interfaces and provide support for simulated and real world testing;

University of Bristol: will develop secure wireless communication systems and support real-world testing; and

University of the West of England: will conduct research into user needs and experiences of CAVs and will be involved in the development of Human Machine Interfaces providing human factors expertise.