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Transport Minister and Business Secretary launch VENTURER driverless car trial

VENTURER BAE wildcat driverless car

Press release issued: 11 February 2015

Transport Minister, Claire Perry and Business Secretary, Vince Cable will launch the VENTURER consortium’s driverless car trial today [Wednesday 11 February], giving the project the green light to test autonomous vehicles in the real world. The consortium includes the University of Bristol.

The VENTURER consortium will trial autonomous vehicles in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire council areas to explore the feasibility of driverless cars in the UK. The project will investigate the legal and insurance aspects of driverless cars and explore how the public react to such vehicles.

Transport Minister Claire Perry said: “Driverless cars are the future. I want the UK to be open-minded and embrace a technology that could transform our roads and open up a brand new route for global investment.

“I want the Public to be comfortable that proper safeguards are in place and the Bristol trials will go a long way in helping us better understand the full implications of this exciting development.”

Dr Robert Piechocki, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and who is leading on the project at the University of Bristol, added: “The University's Communication Systems & Networks (CSN) Group is working on a range of advanced wireless technologies. In combination with other sensor technologies, we believe car-to-car communications will play a key role in providing the safety and public trust levels necessary for autonomous vehicles to become a reality on British roads."

Lee Woodcock, VENTURER project lead and technology director for Atkins’ Highways and Transportation business, said: “This is an exciting time for the UK transport industry, driverless vehicles will bring about many benefits including reduced congestion, safer roads and access to mobility. This is new territory so over the next three years, the VENTURER consortium will look at what driverless vehicles could mean from a legal and insurance perspective as well as how these vehicles could impact on people’s behaviour and how the public might accept this new technology.”

The VENTURER trial will run for 36 months. Testing of the consortium’s autonomous vehicle, the BAE Systems Wildcat on private and public roads is due to begin in early 2016.

The VENTURER consortium is made up of a range of organisations from across different sectors:

  • Atkins: lead partner, providing project co-ordination, delivery and intelligent mobility expertise
  • AXA UK:  insurance and legal expertise 
  • Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council: access to public roads and local road network intelligence
  • First Bus: as part of the work being done around driver assistance technologies, First will provide a bus as a means of collecting data
  • Fusion Processing: advanced sensor systems
  • Williams Advanced Engineering: driving simulator expertise
  • University of Bristol: car to infrastructure communications
  • Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England: research on public expectations, acceptance and response
  • Bristol Robotics Lab, University of Bristol and University of the West of England: hosting the trial centre and providing systems integration and decision-making algorithms

The VENTURER trial is one of three projects being funded by Innovate UK to investigate how driverless vehicles could fit in with every-day life. The GATEway project will explore new forms of automated technology in Greenwich while the UK Autodrive project is being run in Milton Keynes and Coventry.

Further information

Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board – the UK’s innovation agency. Taking a new idea to market is a challenge. Innovate UK funds, supports and connects innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth. For further information visit

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