University of Birmingham to help make all-terrain autonomous cars a reality

Land Rover is aiming to make all-terrain autonomous vehicles a reality

World leading radar and sensing experts from the University of Birmingham have been selected to help Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) deliver a £3.7m project to make all-terrain, all-weather self-driving sports utility vehicles (SUVs) a reality.

The researchers will collaborate with experts from industry over the next 30 months to deliver the world-first CORTEX project. The project will see self-driving cars being taken off road, ensuring they are fully capable in any weather condition: dirt, rain, ice, snow or fog.

Birmingham researchers based in the University's Microwave Integrated Systems Laboratory will be developing a ‘5D’ technique combining real-time acoustic, video, radar, light detection and distance sensing (LiDAR) data. Access to this combined data improves the awareness of the environment the car is in. When combined with machine learning, this will enable the self-driving car to behave in an increasingly sophisticated way, allowing it to handle any weather condition on any terrain.

Chris Holmes, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “It’s important that we develop our self-driving vehicles with the same capability and performance customers expect from all Jaguars and Land Rovers. Self-driving is an inevitability for the automotive industry and ensuring that our autonomous offering is the most enjoyable, capable and safe is what drives us to explore the boundaries of innovation. CORTEX gives us the opportunity to work with some fantastic partners whose expertise will help us realise this vision in the near future.”

CORTEX will develop the technology through algorithm development, sensor optimisation and physical testing on off-road tracks in the UK. The University of Birmingham will bring its world leading research in radar and sensing for autonomous platforms to the project. Myrtle AI, machine learning experts, will also join the project.

CORTEX was announced as part of Innovate UK’s third round of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Funding in March 2018. CORTEX brings together leading technology and automotive expertise as well as academia to deliver highly capable self-driving vehicles. CORTEX is jointly funded by government and industry. The competition was delivered by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.