Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC), the wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Motors and a UK-based centre of excellence for automotive design and engineering, is playing an active role in the ‘UK Autodrive’ consortium project to demonstrate and integrate driverless cars into everyday life.
TMETC, along with Jaguar Land Rover and Ford Motor, is part of this ambitious UK government-backed, driverless car £20 million (approximately Rs 165 crore) project. Having begun in November 2015, the project will continue for a three-year period until October 2018. It involves testing automated vehicle and connected vehicle technologies using two distinct types of vehicles: ‘regular’ passenger vehicles provided by Jaguar Land Rover, TMETC and Ford. While JLR is providing three vehicles, Tata and Ford have two vehicles each participating. A Tiago hatchback is one of the two Tata Motors’ vehicles being trialled with autonomous driving technology.
The collaboration between the automobile industry and the government is expected to introduce driverless car technology to the UK market by demonstrating the feasibility of autonomous equipment ranging from Emergency Vehicle Warning to Collaborative Parking. UK Autodrive will carry out on-road trials of driverless cars in some of the UK’s larger cities such as Coventry and Milton Keynes before the end of 2017.
The self-driving cars, like the modified Tata Tiago used, will have technology that allows the vehicles to ‘talk’ to each other in order to adjust to developing traffic situations. The initial trails began in October 2016 at the HORIBA-MIRA test track and ended in June 2017. The on-road trials will take the cars into progressively complex urban scenarios in the mentioned cities to gauge the technology’s effectiveness.
In addition to the Tata, JLR and Ford cars, the project is also testing a fleet of 40 self-driving, electric-powered ‘pods’ that will be able to operate on pavements and other pedestrian areas. At a later date, these pods will also be trialled by the public for their commute on a small scale.
The next step of the programme involves trials for the Tata Tiago, Land Rover Discovery and Ford Mondeo on segregated sections of public roads within Milton Keynes and Coventry. It is scheduled to take place in the coming months before the end of the year.
The Tata Motors European Technical Centre is also the brains behind the likes of the upcoming Tata Tiago EV due to be revealed in September 2017 and the Bolt BEV that we had exclusively driven in December 2016.