Nissan Leaf deployed in autonomous city driving project

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The Nissan Leaf project car will take to public roads near the Smart Mobility Living Lab in London.

An autonomous mobility service research project called ServCity has kicked off. The project plans to develop ways to help cities and ‘complex environments’ take advantage of new vehicle technologies.

ServCity is a collaborative project that will pilot in the UK and is funded in part by the UK government. Some of the aims are to overcome barriers affecting the deployment of autonomous vehicles in cities.

The project has received £100 million (AUD$190m) in funding from the government’s Intelligent Mobility Fund. Backers also include Nissan and Hitachi.

The project has undergone development, simulation and testing on private tracks but will now take to public roads near the Smart Mobility Living Lab in Greenwich. The long-term goal, it says, is to help make autonomous vehicles user-friendly and safe.

ServCity’s vehicle, called CAV (connected and autonomous vehicle), is based on the all-electric Nissan Leaf and equipped with bespoke technology. It connects to roadside sensors to create what is described as a “co-operative infrastructure environment”.

“Through a combination of test simulation, end-user experience research and real-world trials, ServCity will inform how cities can exploit the potential of future mobility solutions and accelerate their deployment,” said ServCity.

“Concentrating on the three key areas of technology, people and scalability, ServCity aims to ensure the user experience is as intuitive, inclusive and engaging as possible.”

One firm involved in helping to push the autonomous technology believes user experience is key to its development.

Andrew Hart, a director at SBD Automotive, said: “Robotaxis have the potential to fundamentally transform mobility for both consumers and the cities they operate in. The user experience lies at the heart of that transformation, as operators will need to carefully balance customer expectations with real-world technological constraints.”

“SBD is proud to be a part of the ServCity project, bringing our decades of hands-on experience from working with car makers to help define and test different approaches to delivering a seamless Robotaxi experience.”

Previous ServCity initiatives include a HumanDrive development project over 30 months using an autonomous Nissan Leaf.

A second project, called Grand Drive, explored the suitability of autonomous cars for long-distance travel. On that occasion, the Leaf travelled 370km from Nissan’s technical centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, to its factory in Sunderland. It set the record for the longest single journey achieved by a self-driving car in the UK.

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