Autonomous car trials – Are they smart or reckless?

By John Evans /

Later this year, a Nissan Leaf will travel from Cranfield University to Sunderland, a distance of 230 miles. It will navigate roundabouts, A-roads and motorways, all through live traffic. Nothing unusual about that except that the Leaf will be driving itself.

The journey, called the Grand Drive, is billed as the most complex autonomously controlled journey yet attempted in the UK. It will be the culmination of a 30-month development project that boasts heavyweight partners including Nissan and Hitachi.

The project is called HumanDrive since one of its goals is to develop a vehicle control system that emulates a natural human driving style using machine learning and artificial intelligence. To assist engineers, a detailed visualization of the environment the autonomous test cars have been developed in has been created.