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Heavy rain affects object detection by autonomous vehicle LiDAR sensors

High level autonomous vehicles (AVs) are promised by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and technology companies to improve road safety as well as bringing economical and societal benefits to us all.

All high-level AVs rely heavily on sensors, and in the paper, ‘Realistic LiDAR with Noise Model for Real-Tim Testing of Automated Vehicles in a Virtual Environment’, published in the IEEE Sensors Journal, researchers from the Intelligent Vehicles Group at WMG, University of Warwick have specifically simulated and evaluated the performance of LiDAR sensors in rain.

The WMG 3xD simulator, used to test the LiDAR sensorsUsing the WMG 3xD simulator, researchers tested an autonomous vehicle’s LiDAR sensors in different intensities of rain, driving around a simulation of real roads in and around Coventry. The simulator is a key part of testing autonomous vehicles, as they have to have been on several million miles of road, this therefore means that they can be tested in a safe environment that is the same as a real road.

LiDAR sensors work by emitting numerous narrow beams of near-infrared light with circular/elliptical cross sections, these can reflect off objects in their trajectories and return to the detector of the LiDAR sensor.

One of the issues of LiDAR sensors is the degradation of its performance in rain. If a LiDAR beam intersects with a raindrop at a short distance from the transmitter, the raindrop can reflect enough of the beam back to the receiver, therefore detecting the raindrop as an object. The droplets can also absorb some of the emitted light, degrading the range of performance for the sensors.

Using different probabilistic rain models (none, to different intensities) researchers made it ‘rain’ the WMG 3XD simulator, and measured the LiDAR sensor’s responses to the rain, making a record of false positive and false negative detections.

They found that as the rain intensity increased it became more difficult for the sensors to detect objects. In a short range from the vehicle (up to 50m), The WMG 3xD simulator, used to test the LiDAR sensorsseveral rain drops were erroneously detected. However in a medium range, (50m-100m) this had decreased, but as rainfall increased to up to 50mm per hour, the sensors detection of objects decreased in conjunction with a longer range in distance.

Dr Valentina Donzella, from WMG, University of Warwick comments:
“Ultimately we have confirmed that the detection of objects is hindered to LiDAR sensors the heavier the rain and the further away they are, this means that future research will have to investigate how to ensure LiDAR sensors can still detect objects sufficiently in noisy environment.

“The developed real-time sensor and noise models will help to further investigate these aspects, and may also inform autonomous vehicles manufacturers’ design choices, as more than one type of sensor will be needed to ensure the vehicle can detect objects in heavy rain.”


25 FEBRUARY 2021


High-res images available at:
Caption: The WMG 3xD simulator, used to test the LiDAR sensors
Credit: WMG, University of Warwick
Caption: A virtual scan of the NAIC building generated with Intelligent Vehicle Group’s LiDAR model
Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

Paper available to view at:


Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221

Thu 25 Feb 2021, 15:54 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles Research

WMG Assistant Professor joins Micromobility Research Fund

Roger WoodmanWMG Assistant Professor of Human Factors, Roger Woodman, has been selected to join the Micromobility Research Fund set up by the Ford-owned e-scooter firm Spin.

Roger is one of only 12 academics selected to join the panel made up of experts from ten leading UK and US universities and industry. Together they will study various safety aspects of e-scooter use as well as rider behaviour, and the challenges and opportunities of the integration within a city’s road systems and existing public transport networks.

Roger Woodman explains: "Ultimately, the point of introducing e-scooter schemes is to advance our society and to bring a greater benefit to all, not just to the e-scooter riders and the service providers but to all who live in our towns and cities. Just as with many new services, this will require ongoing reflection and review from everyone, including the general public and stakeholders and the path may not always be straightforward. I’m confident that building a strong body of independent research will allow policy makers, e-scooter advocates, as well as sceptics, to advance the dialogue and put forward legislation that best supports everyone.”

Josh Johnson, Public Policy Manager at Spin, adds: “The willingness to share independent research and learnings about the adoption of e-scooters with key stakeholders has become less of a priority for operators and this needs to change. Spin is committed to improving and advancing micromobility policy frameworks globally in the markets we operate in. These studies will give everyone fresh and actionable insights. We look forward to sharing best practices with stakeholders in the UK and beyond around how to best integrate e-scooters into local transport networks while maximising safety of all road users and provide communities with a green, fun and socially-distanced way to travel.”

Safe travel behaviour will be at the centre of research topics and will build on Spin's solid research-based policy work developed in the US over the past two years.

Josh adds: “Our top priority has always been rider safety. All operators have a responsibility to their riders to not only exceed vehicle safety standards but provide a platform to educate riders on safety best practices and how to be mindful of pedestrians and other road users.”

Preparation for the first piece of research is under way in Milton Keynes. This study will explore factors that influence road-user safety including:

● Where do e-scooter users ride most often (cycle lane, roadway, pavement) and why?

● How often do safety incidents occur, and what are common factors?

● What factors or conditions (i.e. cycling infrastructure, weather, traffic volume, etc…) impact real or perceived safety of e-scooters for users and for non-users?

The study will be informed by a diverse set of data sources including qualitative and quantitative consumer survey data and on-street AI and IoT sensor data of e-scooter interactions with pedestrians, cyclists and cars captured by Vivacity Lab’s sensors that are installed in the city. The researchers will also have access to anonymised e-scooter movement data (GPS).

Vivacity’s roadside sensors employ machine learning algorithms to detect near-miss incidents and are able to analyse movement patterns of vulnerable road-users such as cyclists and pedestrians, as well as non-connected vehicles. Such data will be invaluable to assess why near-misses may happen and what could be possibly done to minimise them. All data shared by the sensors is anonymised with video feeds discarded at source, enabling safer roads without intruding on privacy.

The research may include outputs such as a mapping of “safe routes” based on riding patterns and user feedback, and recommendations on how local authorities and operators could encourage riders towards a safer use of e-scooters. Recommendations may also include infrastructure improvements or other policy changes to enhance roadway safety for all users.

Find out more about WMG’s Human Factors research here.


WMG Centre HVM Catapult hosts ’System Safety and Accident Analysis conference

WMG Centre HVM Catapult was proud to host the first virtual European STAMP Workshop and Conference (ESWC) from 21st-22nd October.

WMG 3xD simulatorThe conference focussed on safety analysis of complex systems in diverse domains including self-driving cars, marine, aviation and healthcare. The conference brought together researchers and practitioners to hear more about Systems-Theoretic Accident Model and Processes (STAMP).

STAMP is a new accident causality model based on systems theory, increasing our understanding of why complex systems fail, and helping to make them safer by predicting accidents and analysing hazards.

The varied agenda featured world-leading speakers from General Motors, Thales, Ansys, Codethink, as well as experts from the Intelligent Vehicles research group at WMG.

Presenters included Dr John Thomas from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Professor Nancy Leveson (at MIT) who have introduced STAMP methods (STPA and CAST) to the world.

Over 300 people attended over the two days from more than 30 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Israel, Turkey, UAE, USA, Sweden, Finland, France, Russia and the UK, with diverse representation from both academia and business.

WMG has also been selected by the European conference steering committee to host the 9th European STAMP Workshop and Conference (ESWC) in October 2021. This is the first time the conference will be physically hosted in the UK, providing a valuable opportunity to showcase the UK’s world-leading capabilities in complex systems like Connected and Automated mobility (CAM) technology and systems, Electric Vehicles, Aviation and Marine.

Find out more about STAMP and WMG System Safety research here or contact Dr Siddartha Khastgir.

To register your interest in the 9th European STAMP Workshop and Conference (ESWC) in October 2021 click here.

Fri 13 Nov 2020, 10:04 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles HVM Catapult

WMG academic helps identify the frameworks for the Government to enrol Autonomous Vehicles

When it comes to Autonomous Vehicles the question on everyone’s lips is when will they be on the roads? However for them to be safely deployed there must be a policy framework.

SiddarthaIn the report, ‘Safe Drive Initiative: SafeDI Scenario-Based AV Policy Framework - an overview for policymakers, published by the World Economic Forum, Dr Siddartha Khastgir from WMG, University of Warwick as part of the Technical Working Group of the Safe Drive Initiative, contributed to the technological aspects of the policy framework building on his UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship research outcomes.

In order to measure driving safely in the AV sector there are many challenges, especially how to evaluate the safety of AVs. In this report, the Forum along with industry, government and academic experts have developed guidance and tools to create a useful, practicable governance approach for safety assurance of AVs, based on how it behaves in the context of its operating environment, known as its Operational Design Domain (ODD).

The Safe Drive Initiative seeks to establish a high-level framework to enable regulators and AV developers to work collaboratively to demonstrate an AV system’s capability to operate without intervention from a driver. The initiative proposes a data-driven, scenario based assessment using a graduated approach to safety assurance. The framework’s approach is vehicle and solution-agnostic and builds upon existing national and international standards, where possible. The approach focusses on assessing AV in the context of its deployment ODD by demonstrating behaviour competence in a range of scenarios and covers using simulation, driving in controlled environments and naturalistic on-road driving for evaluation. This can then be adopted by a regulator or government entities, which are responsible for managing AV development and deployment.

The report has highlighted numerous points of testing that all bodies should follow, including:

1. Prepare - Convene necessary stakeholders to identify interim milestones as a function of the deployment ODD which can be defined using standard taxonomies e.g. BSI PAS 1883

2. Define - Specify qualitative scenarios for the interim milestones as behaviour competencies in each ODD sub-set

3. Measure – Using a scenario database (e.g. SafetyPool, UK’s National CAV Test Scenario Database), select scenarios based on ODD for simulation and corresponding success criteria

4. Execute – Conduct on-road tests and perform on going monitoring to evaluate scenario exposure to refine evaluation

The graduated approach enables defining interim milestones as a function of deployment ODD. After completing all steps of the assessment regulators should have a clear idea of which AV developers are ready to operate commercially in the deployment operational design domain. Ideally, the AV developer should demonstrate the vehicle’s capability to operate without a safety driver, but this depends on back-up on mechanisms such as minimal risk manoeuvres and remote operators to take control should they meet a rare situation it is not designed to handle, for example if an emergency vehicle is approaching.

Dr Siddartha Khastgir, from WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“Although this framework is for all regulators who want to implement an operational safety assessment within their jurisdiction, not one-size will fit all, different towns and cities all over the world will have different concerns based on their respective Operational Design Domains, and therefore each step should be customised for each community. Defining the interim milestones and qualitative scenarios as a function of deployment ODD, enables this framework to be used by wide variety of stakeholders like manufacturers, governments, local-authorities etc.

“We do however hope that this framework will help us see the safe development and deployment of CAVs, so that in the future we can see the benefits of safe, clean and inclusive mobility. WMG are already researching this in many ways, as we are leading the Midlands Future Mobility testbed, which sees autonomous vehicles being tested on real worlds, and have the facilities, such as the 3xD simulator to test AVs before they go on real world tests.”

Tim Dawkins from the World Economic Forum comments:

“By bringing together a multi-stakeholder community of industry, academia, safety organizations and regulators, we’ve developed a pro-active approach which will enables policymakers to structure a safety evaluation for AVs which reflects the challenges of their roads, and expects a common standard of safety across different types of vehicle. Partnering with research institutions like WMG is essential to building the knowledge base to empower regulators for success.”

11 NOVEMBER 2020


High-res images available at:

- 3xD Simulator:

- Dr Siddartha Khastgir:

Report available to view at:

More details about Siddartha’s UKRI Future Leadership can be seen at:



A TEDx talk by Siddartha can also be seen at:


Wed 11 Nov 2020, 12:54 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles Partnerships Research

The next generation of WMG engineers

Congratulations to the 2018 cohort of Graduate Trainee Engineers who have all now successfully completed the Scheme, and secured new positions as Project Engineers at WMG.

WMG Grad SchemeOver the last two years the eight graduates; Harry Chan, Edward Griffin, Katerina Gonos, Jet Feng, Ben Ayre, Adam Szypula, Vidya Narayanan and Puja Unadkat; have been developing their engineering skills by working with academics and industry partners on either autonomous vehicles or energy innovation research.

Several of the graduates have also had their work published in leading academic journals and shared their expertise at key industry events.

In addition all eight have also supported WMG’s Outreach programme by taking part in workshops, demonstrations and talks with local school children including at the University’s Family Day events.

WMG’s Graduate Scheme Manager, Louise Oddy explains: “The recent success of our graduates is a true testament to their consistent hard work, determination and professionalism. They have made a lasting impact across several areas of WMG and will continue to do this within their roles as Project Engineers. Growing our own talent is integral to the future success of WMG and I could not be prouder of all of the Graduate Engineers. Thank you to those across the department that continue to support the scheme and make our programme so unique.”

Ed GriffinProject Engineer, Ed Griffin adds: “WMG is an exceptional organisation where the graduate scheme promotes excellent tailored development in each graduate’s individual technical field. Our exposure to a range of cutting-edge automotive research, combined with various project management opportunities, is now invaluable in our Project Engineer roles.”

Find out more about the WMG Graduate Scheme here.

Wed 11 Nov 2020, 09:32 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles Energy Systems STEM Careers

WMG Chief Engineer takes on new role at AESIN

Gunny DhadyallaWMG’s Chief Engineer, Gunny Dhadyalla, has been appointed Co-Chair of AESIN’s ADAS and HAV (Highly Automated Vehicles) Workstream.

This Workstream focusses on enabling technology for safer and more automated vehicles.

Gunny, who works in WMG’s Intelligent Vehicles research team will work alongside the new AESIN Chair, Tim Edwards of HORIBA-MIRA, bringing extensive industry and research experience to the future development of the Workstream.

Gunny explains: “My role as co-chair will involve working together with Tim to look at opportunities for the UK electronics value chain.

“We will be responsible for shaping the activities within the Workstream, which include; Sensing, System Engineering and Control, Validation and Verification, Human Machine Interfaces and Standards and Safety - all areas where WMG and the University have high levels of capability and expertise.

“Of particular interest, for us, is to understand the role of high value manufacturing and what the HVM Catapult centres can do to progress the development of future supply chains specifically in the areas of ADAS and HAV.”

Congratulations Gunny.

Thu 15 Oct 2020, 10:45 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles

WMG Professor to present at key webinar exploring The Future of Logistics

Professor Paul JenningsProfessor Paul Jennings will be joining the line up at The Future of Logistics, free webinar, this Friday (25th September).

The Future of Logistics, produced by Barclays Manufacturing Logistics and Transport team, will feature presentations by three experts on the logistics industry from the Road Haulage Association (RHA), Unipart Logistics and WMG. Professor Jennings will be sharing his expertise on connected and autonomous vehicles.

Legislation on vehicle emissions, Brexit, Covid-19, an aging workforce, vehicle autonomy and smart highways, the surge in e-commerce, and vehicle electrification are some of the biggest influencers shaping the future of logistics that will be debated.

Professor Paul Jennings, a physicist and expert in connected transport systems, will present on autonomous vehicles and also on a range of other research into transportation that can help keep goods flowing; GPS, traffic management, smart roads and cities and driver behaviour. Professor Jennings led the development of WMG’s 3xD Simulator for Intelligent Vehicles and is the current lead on Midlands Future Mobility, the £31 million public CAV (connected and autonomous vehicle) test environment.

Richard Burnett, CEO of the RHA will discuss diesel legislation, Brexit, labour and the trend of “stranded assets”, where trucks purchased by logistics firms are inoperable within a short period due to changing local regulations on vehicle emissions. Technology sector director at Unipart Logistics, Nicola Rouse, will discuss how technology is changing Unipart’s business and the new opportunities more data brings, plus the importance of sustainability and resilience in business.

Barclays’ Head of Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics, Lee Collinson, and logistics business specialist Ian Cranidge, will give an overview of their customers’ experiences of the logistics industry and where they expect improvement from operators, the government and in technology, at this challenging time.

“With the rapid rise in e-commerce before and through lockdown, plus environmental pressure on hauliers and new technology improving the intelligence of delivering goods, the logistics business is changing fast,” says Lee Collinson. “More home deliveries, Brexit, more electric vehicles and even the expected reshoring of manufacturing from Asia will put pressure on logistics operators but offer new business models too. We urge you join this free-to-attend webinar to find out more.”

A Q&A session follows the presentations where participants can put questions to the panel.

The webinar is free to attend on registration, once approved by Barclays. The event takes place at 10am on Friday 25th September.

You must register before the event, and places are first-come first-served.

Register for the event here.



Wed 23 Sep 2020, 10:41 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles

You can train your brain to reduce motion sickness

  • Everyone can suffer from motion sickness, and around one in three are known to be highly susceptible to motion sickness
  • Motion sickness can occur during car travel, at sea, using virtual reality headsets and is expected to be a significant factor in self-driving car
  • A cognitive training tool designed by researchers at WMG, University of Warwick has been proven to help ‘train the brain’ to reduce motion sickness by over 50%

3XD Intelligent Vehicles Simulator at WMG.

Visuospatial training exercises can train the brain to reduce motion sickness, providing a potential remedy for future passengers riding in autonomous vehicles. Researchers at WMG, University of Warwick reduced motion sickness by over 50% using the training tool and it was found to be effective in both a driving simulator and on-road experimentation.

Everyone can experience motion sickness, with 1 in 3 of us being highly susceptible to motion sickness. Motion sickness, sometimes referred to as travel sickness usually can occur during travel in cars and boats, but also when using virtual reality headsets or in a simulator.

With the concept of autonomous vehicles coming closer to our roads, the need to reduce motion sickness is more apparent than ever. It is expected that due to potential vehicle designs and people’s desire to engage in non-driving related tasks such as reading or watching films, motion sickness will be a significant factor for vehicle occupants.

In fact, if we were able to reduce motion sickness so much that people could read and work in future cars, it’s predicted that this productivity boost could be worth as much as US$508billion per year according to Morgan Stanley.

Considering the number of people affected, relatively little research has been done into motion sickness, especially not into motion sickness and autonomous vehicles.

However, in the paper ‘A Novel Method for Reducing Motion Sickness Susceptibility through Training Visuospatial Ability – A Two-Part Study’, published in the journal Applied Ergonomics, researchers from WMG, University of Warwick have been successful in reducing motion sickness.

In the project, researchers have found by using visuospatial training you can essentially train the brain to reduce motion sickness by over 50%.

Participants in the study went in either the WMG 3xD simulator for a driving simulator trial, or on an on-road trial where they were driven around as passengers, imitating what it would be like to be in an autonomous vehicle.

Baseline motion sickness was first measured during their initial ride, using a verity of pre-validated questionnaires, to report severity of the symptoms. A ‘fast motion sickness scale’, was also used to capture ‘real-time’ symptoms as participants were asked to rate their sickness every minute on a scale of 0-20 considering nausea, discomfort, and stomach problems.

Example of a visuospatial excercise part of the vandenberg and kuse mental rotations test.After their first run, participants completed various pen-and-paper visuospatial training tasks, once per day for 15 minutes per day, for 2 weeks. This included exercises such as a looking at a pattern of boxes that and having to identify which image out of three is the original just rotated, paper folding tasks and understand spatial patterns.

After the training period, participants took part in another motion sickness assessment and it was recorded that motion sickness reduced by 51% in the driving simulator, and 58% in the on-road trial.

Dr Joseph Smyth, from WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“Being able to reduce an individual’s personal susceptibility to motion-sickness using simple ‘brain training style’ tasks training is a massive step-forward in the development of future transport systems, including autonomous vehicles. Human factors research is all about how we can design products and services that are pleasurable. Motion sickness has, for a long time, been a significant limitation to many peoples transport options and this research has shown a new method for how we can address this.

“I hope that in the future we can optimise the training into a short, highly impactful method. Imagine if when someone is waiting for a test-drive in a new autonomous vehicle they could sit in the showroom and do some ‘brain training puzzles’ on a tablet before going out in the car, therefore reducing their risk of sickness. It’s also very likely this method can be used in other domains such as sea-sickness for navy staff or cruise passengers. We are particularly excited about applying this new finding to Virtual Reality headset use.”

Pete Bennett, from Jaguar Land Rover comments:

“Making our future autonomous vehicles as user friendly as possible is key, and motion sickness is something we knew we needed to research as so many people experience it even now as a passenger.

“The research done by WMG has shown that motion sickness can be reduced, and we can incorporate the research into our future vehicle design process.”

Mon 14 Sep 2020, 13:51 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles Research Warwick News

WMG Professor takes up key editorial role at international journal

Prof Mehrdad DiantaiCongratulations to WMG Professor of Connected and Automated Mobility Systems, Mehrdad Dianati, who has been appointed as Field Chief Editor for Frontiers in Future Transportation journal.

As an esteemed expert within autonomous vehicle research, Professor Dianati was appointed to define the overall scope and reputation of the journal, and provide key support and guidance to the editorial board.

As Field Chief Editor, he will also be tasked with creating a community of future transportation researchers and ensure their work is fully represented in key publications.

Commenting on his new role, Professor Dianati said: “As the transport systems become more complex and multifaceted cyber-physical systems, multi-disciplinary and innovative approaches to dissemination of the scientific and technological innovations are crucial to transform the ways that scientists impact the society.

“Frontiers in Future Transportation focuses on providing a state-of-the-art open access platform to maximize the impacts of the cutting-edge scientific and technological innovations that will transform the future of transport and mobility systems. Our ambition is to facilitate a timely, constructively selective and high-caliber peer review process through our distinguished multi-disciplinary and international editorial board to ensure high-quality publications with a wide reach and impact.”

 Find out more about Professor Dianati’s research at WMG here.

Thu 02 Jul 2020, 09:50 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles Mehrdad Dianati

Dr Siddartha Khastgir re-elected to the IMechE Council of Members

WMG’s Head of Verification and Validation for Intelligent Vehicles, Dr Siddartha Khastgir, has been re-elected to the IMechE Council.

The results were announced at the Institute’s AGM on Wednesday (27th May).

Siddartha KhastgirDr Khastgir said: “I am excited and honoured to be re-elected to the IMechE Council of Members. As a society, and as an Institution, we are in a critical juncture, and it is important to ensure that we re-think the future of the engineering profession. We need to be creative in our new approaches -addressing the challenges of education and manufacturing which the pandemic has highlighted.

“I have volunteered at the Institution for over 11 years now, and I am honoured to be given this opportunity, by wider IMechE membership, to be part of this journey and work with fellow Council members and IMechE Trustees.”

Fri 29 May 2020, 14:33 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles Athena Swan

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