ITS (UK) Women in ITS Interest Group and KTN host International Women in Engineering Day Debate Webinar

As part of International Women in Engineering Day 2018, the ITS (UK) Women in ITS Interest Group and KTN hosted a webinar debate discussing the development of driverless cars. This was an opportunity for women engineers, scientists and technologists to come together to promote the growth of women in engineering. Statistics from the Women’s Engineering Society indicate that 11% of the engineering workforce is female, which is potentially the lowest rate in Europe, so it is vital for these events to happen to increase diversity and to enable women in the UK to take up opportunities in Engineering.

Topics of the webinar included projects involved in the CCAV 1 and 2 research and development projects such as Project Flourish and Project Multi-Car Collision Avoidance, (“MuCCA”), and the challenges involved in implementing driverless cars in the UK.

Lisa Konstantinopoulou, Head of Innovations and Deployment Transport and Logistics at ITS Ertico, started the proceedings sharing her work on TM2.0, to which their current focus is to enable vehicle interaction with traffic management.

The TM2.0 Innovation platform was launched in 2014 under the ERTICO umbrella of activities, bringing together 40 members from all ITS sectors to focus on new solutions for advanced interactive traffic management.

Tracey Poole, Transport Planner of Atkins and Lead Project Manager for FLOURISH project stated that it was an exciting time to be a transport planner.

FLOURISH is a 3 year project worth £5.5m, helping to advance the successful implementation of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) in the UK, by developing services and capabilities that link user needs and system requirements.

Tracey stated that the Government has pledged £250m on the development of Connected Autonomous Vehicles (“CAVs”) and that it’s, ‘not a case of if, but when,’ CAVs will be implemented on our roads. She was adamant that connectivity will come before the autonomy and that it would be an opportunity potentially lost if CAVs were to not be fully implemented on roads in the long term.

Rebecca Advani, Senior Technologist and Ellie Wooldridge, Human Factors Specialist of Transport Systems Catapult, discussed the CAV evolution within the transport ecosystem.

They focused mainly on the challenges faced when thinking about the integration of autonomy.

There are many different categories to consider, such as social, technological, political, economic, environmental and legal, which makes the task overwhelming to tackle. They discussed the CCAV R&D projects already underway, such as the MuCCA project who are looking to develop a driver aid that aims to avoid multi-car collisions on motorways, which would ultimately, decrease congestions on roads.

Companies such as Parkopedia, a parking service provider, look to reduce congestion through providing a reservation service for parking spaces in the UK. This would reduce travel time for car users, reduce CO2 emissions to alleviate problems of air pollution, and save drivers a lot of stress. They also stated that if autonomous cars were to be introduced on roads, this would create 2.5 times more space for parking, which would increase car parking spaces. However, this also raises questions of whether it will increase the amount of drivers into cities, which is what autonomy is looking to decrease.

On a final note, Human Drive Project are developing a prototype autonomous vehicle with the aim of successfully demonstrating a lengthy end-to-end journey in a variety of settings. Ellie questioned the challenge of being able to steer around parked cars and with horses on the other side of the road at the same time, and it would be interesting to see what reaction the car would have to cope, as there are multiple decision making outputs available.

These are all valuable insights and awareness into a challenging road still ahead for autonomy.

Please click here to see all links to presentations.

Written by Hayley Izzard

Photo Credit: Maryland GovPics