Autonomous vehicles

The CRISTAL software system was initially developed to lend 24/7 support for the construction and installation of the complex scientific experiments being conducted at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva. Based on research by Richard McClatchey, Professor of Applied Computer Science, the system provided a dynamic software solution for managing over 200 terabytes of CERN’s LHC detector data and the complex workflows associated with producing it.

CRISTAL has since been translated into open source and commercially available variations, enabling companies across Europe to adapt to the evolving needs of their users in a rapidly changing technology landscape.

A man conducting research of Hadron Collider.

Shaping global standards

Rigorous assessment of everything from transport engineering and usability, to safety standards and insurance issues, has since informed global CAV safety standards developed by the British Standards Institute.

A key focus for the research team, led by Professor Tony Pipe, UWE Bristol Professor of Robotics and Autonomous Systems, was how CAVs would interact with other road users including buses, cyclists and pedestrians.

Working with South Gloucestershire Council, they engaged with communities to consider issues such as equity of access, social inclusion and concerns around controlling the CAVs. Public opinion was canvased during demonstration sessions at both UWE Bristol’s Frenchay Campus and Cribbs Causeway shopping centre. It was also gathered during an autonomous parcel delivery pilot.

The team found that the public would need to be sufficiently convinced that CAVs would have the required social capabilities before driverless vehicles become the norm.

Operational safety was another line of inquiry, in terms of creating a safe, reliable and efficient human-robot interface. In doing so, the team used simulations to stress-test CAVs, thereby overcoming the challenges related to risk and expense of real-world risk assessments.

Instrumental in increasing knowledge

The work at UWE Bristol was instrumental in increasing knowledge about the strengths and weaknesses of CAV technology. The findings provided the evidence required by the UK law firm Burges-Salmon in its efforts to develop a regulatory framework for CAVs in the UK and elsewhere.

The research shaped Burges-Salmon’s 2018 contributions to the joint Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission consultation on automated vehicles. This later informed the Law Commission’s recommendations on reforming UK law for the introduction of CAVs.

Business collaborations were equally pivotal to the project. For example, the engineering consultancy Atkins Global was able to develop its policy on CAV technology – an area that has since propelled company growth. Fusion Processing, which develops advanced sensors and control systems for the transport sector and smart cities, was similarly able to develop new vehicle control products.

Contribution to the UN 2030 sustainable development goals

UWE Bristol is proud to align our research to the UN sustainable development goals. The above research aligns with the following goals:

  • Sustainable development goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • Sustainable development goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

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