StreetWise launches the UK’s most technically advanced commuter research trials in self-driving vehicles

  • FiveAI is leading the first-of-its-kind project, in partnership with Direct Line Group and the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL)
  • The invite-only research trials are taking place on public roads on a fixed route in two London boroughs, Croydon and Bromley, throughout October and November 2019
  • StreetWise is a consortium initiative funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and part of a programme managed by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV)
  • The insights gathered through the StreetWise trials will contribute towards the development of safe, self-driving mobility services as an alternative to the urban commuter car

The StreetWise consortium today announces the launch of its commuter research trials with invited participants. This is the UK’s most advanced demonstration of self-driving vehicles on mixed-use public roads, deploying advanced technology developed by FiveAI, who lead the project.

Through StreetWise, FiveAI is partnering with Direct Line Group, one of the UK’s largest car insurance providers, and TRL, the global centre for innovation in transport and mobility, amongst other partners, to run an invite-only self-driving research trial across a fixed route in the London boroughs of Croydon and Bromley.

As part of the StreetWise project, which researches the technology, safety validation methods, insurance and service models required to deliver a viable, shared self-driving service, these trials aim to gather insights into self-driving vehicle services from the research participants. Although these research trials are not open to the wider public, ultimately FiveAI believes self-driving services could offer citizens a safer, greener, more convenient and increasingly affordable alternative to the urban commuter car.

FiveAI’s role in the project has been to develop and provide the reference software stack that powers all key aspects of the self-driving system. The stack was developed and trained using a data set from complex UK roads and cities, including London. Rigorous safety practices govern all of the on road testing, where highly trained safety drivers sit behind the wheel at all times. FiveAI’s participation in the consortium comes with the desire to power the development of the industry through commercial partnerships.

TRL is undertaking all participant research and analysis, assessing researching participants’ willingness to use and pay for a shared self-driving service as well as measuring their attitudes towards safety and trust. TRL is also establishing the safety case for the wider StreetWise project and generating an independent database of scenarios for simulation testing.

Direct Line Group is providing research participants for the trials. As part of the broader StreetWise consortium, Direct Line Group insures operations based on TRL’s safety case, and more broadly, is working to understand the conditions needed to insure software - rather than human - drivers.

Stan Boland, co-founder and CEO of FiveAI, said: “Shared, self-driving vehicle services promise a better way for people to get around, we’ll be working with forward-thinking partners to make these services a reality in European urban environments. The lessons learned through StreetWise provide an important step towards that goal.”

Paul Gadd, Interim Deputy Director for Land Transport, UKRI, said: “By bringing together cutting-edge technology and world-class research with insurers and the government, the UK is placing itself at the forefront of self-driving vehicle technology. StreetWise is a fine example of how the UK is becoming a premier development location for connected and automated vehicles.”

David Hynd, Chief Scientist at TRL said: “This is a significant milestone not only for the StreetWise consortium but for the entire CAV sector in the UK and beyond. Automated vehicles represent the future of transport and have the potential to deliver tangible, wide-reaching benefits in relation to reduced congestion, faster and cheaper commutes, fewer collisions and cleaner air. We’re very excited about entering this phase of the project to create credible and real-world insights on the willingness to use and attitudes towards a shared, automated service, which will go a long way to helping us understand how these services can meet the needs of end-users.”

Neil Ingram, Head of Motor Product at Direct Line Group said: “As technological advances continue at pace and self-driving cars become a reality, insurers need to understand how that changes risk; cars will increasingly be controlled by software rather than humans. Working closely with our StreetWise partners, including FiveAI and TRL, provides DLG with unique insight that will help to develop innovative insurance solutions for new tech enabled mobility services.”

UK Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said: "The untapped potential of self-driving vehicle technology is huge — it could enhance road safety, tackle isolation, and create economic opportunities. The Government’s Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy sets out how it is planning for the introduction of self-driving vehicles, and Street​Wise’s successful trial ​will be a major step to rolling out the next phase of the UK’s transport revolution."

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About FiveAI

FiveAI is developing the software and tools in Europe that will power shared, self-driving vehicle services. In doing so, we can improve the lives of millions of citizens, in countless ways. Getting around will be cheaper, quicker, greener, safer, more accessible and more productive.

With star talent and powerful partnerships, FiveAI’s different approach will help it to quickly and cost-effectively deliver publicly tested, independently-verified self-driving software that’s ready for our streets.

About TRL

TRL is a global centre for innovation in transport and mobility. It provides world-leading research, technology and software solutions for surface transport modes and related markets engaged in intelligent, new mobility innovations.

Independent from government, industry and academia, TRL helps organisations create global transport systems that are safe, clean, affordable, liveable and efficient.

Established in 1933 within the British Government as the UK's Transport Research Laboratory, TRL was subsequently privatised in 1996. Today, TRL has more than 1,000 clients across 145 countries, driving positive societal and economic benefit worldwide.

Core areas of expertise include: infrastructure asset management & asset technologies; intelligent transport systems & traffic operations; sustainability & healthy mobility; vehicle safety engineering & technology research; major incident investigations; human factors safety & behavioural science.

TRL is strategically investing, producing disruptive research and delivering innovation linked to:

  • Connected & self-driving vehicles
  • Ultra-low emission technologies
  • Shared mobility services
  • Intelligent asset information
  • Big data, machine learning & artificial intelligence.

Headquartered in the UK, nearly 1/3rd of TRL’s business is with overseas organisations. Its international focus covers Europe, India, Africa & Middle East, plus wider Commonwealth countries, supported by strategic collaborations in North America and Asia Pacific.

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About Direct Line Group

Direct Line Group is headquartered in Bromley. Through its number of well known brands the Group offers a wide range of general insurance products to consumers. These brands include Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege. The Group also provides insurance services for third parties through its partnerships division, Direct Line Group Partnerships. In the commercial sector, the Group's NIG and Direct Line for Business operations offer insurance products for businesses distributed through brokers or direct, respectively.

About StreetWise

The StreetWise project is part-funded by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and is delivered via UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and managed by the UK’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), with other investment coming directly from some of the consortium participants.

It is part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy Future of Mobility Grand Challenge.  That challenge was announced in 2017 to encourage and support extraordinary innovation in UK engineering and technology, making the UK a world leader within the transport industries. This includes facilitating profound changes in transport technologies and business models, to make the movement of people, goods and services across the nation greener, safer, easier and more reliable.

StreetWise began in 2017 and is led by FiveAI. The project is made up of a wider consortium of organisations, including:

  • leading transport innovators, TRL, Transport for London (TfL) as the relevant transport authority and WMG (part of the University of Warwick);
  • the UK’s largest personal automotive insurance provider, Direct Line Group;
  • cutting edge component technology providers, University of Oxford (Torr Vision Group) and McLaren Applied Technologies;
  • modelling and simulation specialists, Claytex.

The aim of StreetWise is to develop and demonstrate the technology, safety validation methods, insurance and service models required for delivering a shared, automated, mobility solution that can offer cities a clean, safe, convenient and affordable alternative to the urban commuter car.

Further outcomes of the StreetWise project will be the creation of a robust safety case, developed for one of the most complex real-world trials of connected and automated vehicles (CAV) to date, which will go on to bolster the safety and success of future CAV initiatives. One of the first projects of its kind to develop a virtual validation methodology for CAVs, StreetWise could also provide the blueprint for new CAV safety standards and certification in the UK and beyond.


About the research trials:

Participants taking part in the research trials have been invited from Direct Line Group, one of the Streetwise consortium partners. The research trials are not open to the public.

The 19km route the self-driving vehicles will use for these trials is fixed and participants will be collected and dropped off at the same location. Participants will have a specific time slot to take part in the research. 

Research candidates will be asked a series of questionnaires and surveys before, during and after the vehicle demonstration.

  • FiveAI complies fully with the Department for Transport’s Code of Practice and a safety driver will be in control of the vehicle at all times alongside a safety technician in the front passenger seat. In addition, FiveAI is compliant with Transport for London’s recently published Guidance for Connected and Autonomous Vehicle trials.