Cranfield University is set to embark on a joint project that will enable autonomous vehicles to perceive obstacles with pin-point accuracy around blind corners, pushing the current limits of self-driving vehicle sensing well beyond what Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) can already achieve.

Leading Project CORAM (Connected On-Road Autonomous Mobility) is Propelmee, an Autonomous Vehicle Technology company that is developing an operating system to enable full autonomy for self-driving cars. The project will bring together expertise, state of the art testing facilities and the CAV assets of the Transport Systems Catapult and Cranfield University. 

Research by the CORAM consortium will pave the way for infrastructure-based connectivity to enable safer on-road autonomy. The results will support the creation of new message structures and communication protocols for the vehicles. The improved shared information goes beyond the existing Vehicle to Vehicle and Vehicle to Location autonomous driving systems.

The research will culminate in a demonstration at Cranfield University’s state-of-the-art Multi-User Environment for Autonomous Vehicle Innovation (MUEAVI) research facility utilising Transport System Catapult’s autonomous pods.

Principal Investigator of the project, Dr Stefano Longo, said: “I’m pleased to see that our newly commissioned test track, MUEAVI, is already attracting interest from a number of companies wishing to test their autonomous algorithms.

“The CORAM project has the ambition to develop standards for infrastructure to vehicle communication necessary to augment the vehicle's perception of the surrounding environment. This will make automated driving equally safe for all road users.”

Professor Antonios Tsourdos, Head of Autonomous and Cyber-Physical Systems Centre at Cranfield University said: “CORAM will be a significant collaborative trial at our  research facility. MUEAVI is a purpose-built, instrumented roadway created as a ‘living laboratory’ for research into connected and autonomous vehicles.

“It enables autonomous vehicles to be researched and tested in diverse real-world situations and environments. This capability is essential to develop and gain confidence in the exciting technological developments of autonomous vehicles.”

Zain Khawaja, Founder & CEO of Propelmee, said: “Connectivity has a key role to play in autonomy, and infrastructure sensing has the potential to greatly aid and enable full autonomy, especially when on-vehicle sensing struggles to accurately perceive the world or 3D maps are broken. Infrastructure can assist autonomy in urban city centres where there is a large density of pedestrians, buses, taxis, cyclists and complex and unpredictable driving scenarios often arise.

“The CORAM consortium will take the first steps in developing a proof of concept of such a system and will help establish the groundwork for the UK to become a world-leader in connected infrastructure for fully autonomous mobility”.

Transport Systems Catapult CEO, Paul Campion, added: “The competition to develop Connected and Autonomous Vehicles is accelerating and as a centre of excellence in transport research, we see this project as making a significant contribution to ensuring that UK is at the forefront of this revolution in mobility.

“As a partner in CORAM, we will leverage our CAV expertise to explore the potential of infrastructure-based sensing to accelerate the introduction of these vehicles into everyday usage in the UK with the maximum possible benefits for passengers and the road network as a whole.”

The CORAM consortium was awarded the funding as part of a CCAV (Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles) and Innovate UK competition to invest in industry-led research and development projects on CAVs. The aim of the competition was to find projects that would deliver technical solutions for CAVs, and leveraging connectivity for autonomy, provide real-world benefits to users.

Notes for editors

About Propelmee

Propelmee’s vision is to create a future where everyone has freedom of mobility at the touch of a button – all over the world. Driven by this vision, we are building the world’s first operating system for self-driving cars, for full autonomy on any vehicle, globally to enable autonomous Mobility-as-a-Service, throughout complex cities. Our autonomy OS detects every obstacle, it recognises every road, it works in new places it hasn’t seen before, has no dependency on huge 3D map databases, allows self-driving cars to go where they have not gone before, doesn’t need a supercomputer in the trunk of every car, works across sensors on any vehicle, and integrates with infrastructure and vehicle communication systems.

About Transport Systems Catapult

The Transport Systems Catapult is the UK’s technology and innovation centre for Intelligent Mobility, harnessing emerging technologies to improve the movement of people and goods around the world. We are here to support business growth, increase the UK’s share of the global Intelligent Mobility market, and attract investment – creating jobs and generating long-term economic growth.

We will help sell UK capability on the global stage, while also promoting the UK as a superb test bed for the transportation industry. With a clear emphasis on collaboration, we are bringing together diverse organisations across different modes of transport, breaking down barriers and providing a unique platform for meeting the world's most pressing transport challenges.

The Transport Systems Catapult is one of an elite network of not-for-profit technology and innovation centres established and overseen by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Transport Systems at Cranfield

Cranfield has over 50 years’ experience in transport, including the aviation, automotive, motorsport, military and marine sectors.

We are the only university in Europe to own and run an airport and to have airline status.

Our education and award-winning research covers all modes of vehicles and transport across technology, engineering and management, including sustainable transport and intelligent mobility.

In an increasingly interconnected world, we specialise in understanding the whole environment in which transport operates: the vehicles, infrastructure, businesses and logistics, as well as the human aspects of operating, managing and using transport.

Our world-class facilities include high-performance wind tunnels, an off-road vehicle dynamics facility, a crash impact test centre (one of just three FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) approved test centres in the world) and our Accident Investigation Laboratory, which is dedicated to our work in aviation, marine and rail safety and the only accident investigation laboratory of its type outside the United States. We were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our world-leading work in aviation safety through research and training in air accident investigation in 2011.

Completed in 2017, our latest facility, the Multi-User Environment for Autonomous Vehicle Innovation, is a £19 million ‘smart’ roadway test environment for the development of intelligent and autonomous vehicles, making it a UK first. It includes the associated systems needed to integrate emerging technologies into our day-to-day lives.

A new £65 million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre will also be built at Cranfield to spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation technology, and a new state-of-the-art digital control tower, which replicates what can be seen through the windows of a traditional air traffic control tower via a live feed using HD cameras and sensors, is being installed at Cranfield Airport.