A trial of connected and autonomous vehicles by UK Autodrive has reportedly demonstrated that “parking difficulties” could be ended with the emergence of new transport technologies.

Conducting tests in Milton Keynes – with partners Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) – it was found that connected cars could communicate with other, enabling them to notify drivers of nearby parking spaces without needing additional sensor equipment specifically for parking.

When they enter a car park, the tested cars (with Collaborative Parking) are provided with an updated heat map showing availability of nearby spaces, with real-time updates from other connected cars in the area showing where spaces are being filled or becoming vacant.

In a separate demonstration, technology by Jaguar Land Rover showed an autonomous car driving itself to a car park before successfully parking itself.

Further technology trialled by the collective includes an Emergency Vehicle Warning (EVW) system – able to warn drivers when emergency vehicles are approaching, and from which direction – as well as an Electronic Emergency Brake Light (EEBL) feature, in which cars braking heavily in the front of traffic can send a warning to connected cars behind.

All of the cars trialled in UK Autodrive projects are tested before being introduced to public roads, with robust safety measures in place – including a trained operator at the wheel of the vehicle in case of emergencies – to prevent risks to other motorists.

Other connected and autonomous vehicle features being developed and tested include:

Intersection Collision Warning (ICW): warning drivers, before entering an intersection, it is unsafe because of a high probability of collision with other vehicles.

In-Vehicle Signage (IVS): sending drivers information directly to their in-car display, providing details of road conditions, congestion and incident reports without the need for costly gantry systems.

Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory (GLOSA): linking traffic light information to the connected car, enabling calculation of the optimal speed for approaching (designed to reduce red light stops, improve flow of traffic and reduce idle vehicle emissions).

Intersection Priority Management (IPM): assigning priority to two or more connected vehicles when they approach an intersection without any priority signage, indicators or traffic lights. 

UK Autodrive project director Tim Armitage said: “Connected and autonomous vehicles are expected to bring a large number of social benefits, from improved road safety to an easing of traffic congestion due in part by a reduction in accidents.

"The possible benefits in terms of parking should also not be overlooked.

“In the future connected features will alert drivers to empty car park spaces and autonomous vehicles will be able to drive straight to them.

"Valet parking systems will enable autonomous vehicles to drop passengers at convenient points, after which the vehicle will leave by itself to undertake a further journey, or park out-of-town.

“As well as making parking less of a hassle for individuals, these new ways of parking and drop-off will allow cities to radically redefine their use of space in the future – with far less land potentially needed for parking spaces in city centres.”