Bristol’s first ‘Festival of What If’ shows off world-leading driverless technology

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Bristol-based driverless vehicle, the VENTURER Wildcat 

The latest driverless vehicle technology was on show for the public to experience for free at a science festival in Bristol this past weekend.

Bristol City Council, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, University of Bristol and UWE, created the ‘Festival of What If’, run by At-Bristol Science Centre to showcase the latest technology developed by the VENTURER and GATEway projects.

Aspects of the VENTURER autonomous car project were showcased as part of the question ‘What if we had to live on another planet?’

The event focused on the future of transport and represents a first for the VENTURER consortium, led by Atkins, as it partners with the GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project led by TRL and funded by government and industry.

Lee Woodcock, global product director at Intelligent Mobility at Atkins said: “The VENTURER consortium has been running for just over two years now and we are very excited to be sharing some of our findings with the people of Bristol. In particular we are pleased to be collaborating with the GATEway project to showcase their driverless pod at this event.”

The outdoor event introduced members of the public to the GATEway driverless pod, built by Westfield Sportscars Ltd using the original Heathrow design. The pod has been equipped with a state-of-the-art control system with 3D imaging and location sensors developed by Bristol-based company Fusion Processing. These sensors enable the pod to navigate and avoid obstacles without the assistance of a driver. The public will be able to watch and engage with a demonstration of the technology.

In addition, BRL will bring a Renault Twizy to the event which has been modified to allow for autonomous driving. It’s too small for the public to join as passengers. However, they will be able to see how the type of driverless technology currently being developed by VENTURER can be applied to other vehicles in the future.

As part of the Government’s commitment and funding to future transport technologies, both projects aim to explore the public perception and understanding of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs). Both projects are using virtual simulations and physical test beds in order to better understand the legal and technical challenges of implementing automated vehicles in urban environments, and to further shape and inform public policy. VENTURER is also testing autonomous technology on real roads using the autonomous Wildcat vehicle.

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