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Jaguar Land Rover researching into human-like automation

The company wants to make driverless cars more like humans rather than robots

Jaguar Land Rover plans to carry out research into what is required to make driverless vehicles behave more like humans rather than robots.

Employees of the London Borough of Greenwich will drive a fleet of autonomous Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles to see how other drivers react to real-world driving situations such as slow-moving traffic, roadworks and busy junctions. Other partners involved in the research include Bosch and Direct Line Group. 

"To successfully introduce autonomous cars, we actually need to focus more on the driver than ever before," said Dr Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology at Jaguar Land Rover.

"Understanding how drivers react to a range of very dynamic and random situations in the real world is essential if we want drivers to embrace autonomous cars in the future."

The research is part of a 5.5 million project led by Bosch that will use the data provided by Jaguar Land Rover's tests to help develop specialist insurance for autonomous cars. The MOVE-UK initiative was announced yesterday by Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, alongside a 2.75 million grant from Innovate UK to help fund the research.

Councillor Denise Hyland, Leader of Royal Borough of Greenwich, said: "The Royal Borough of Greenwich is delighted to be part of this ground breaking project and to be working alongside such innovative and prestigious UK companies... We look forward to gaining valuable insights into the operations of connected cars in the future, how they can help address the problems modern cities face and also how we can help accelerate their deployment capturing the benefits for the UK, London and Greenwich."

The research and project as a whole will help people become more comfortable with the idea of automated vehicles on the road, making them more likely to purchase such cars in future, according to Epple. "By understanding and measuring positive driving behaviours we can ensure that an autonomous Jaguar or Land Rover of the future will not simply perform a robotic function," he said.

He added: "If drivers have confidence in the automation they will seamlessly flick from one mode to the other. Autonomous mode will help with any challenging, or less stimulating activities on the journey, like parking or driving in heavy traffic. If this automated experience feels natural and safe, the driver will be able to genuinely relax and will be happy to let the car take control."

Image credit: TRL's MOVE_UK video, published on YouTube (see above) on 1st February 2016

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