Times are changing
If we are to seize electrification and autonomy opportunities, it’s essential that the UK develops an environment suitable for breakthrough technologies. From domestic charging solutions to developing repeatable testing environments, the UK faces big challenges and we are addressing these through our lead centre for Vehicle Electrification and Connected and Autonomous Vehicles at WMG, University of Warwick.
Electrification shaping a low carbon future
David Greenwood – Professor, Advanced Propulsion Systems at WMG, University of Warwick
Demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is surging in the UK and registrations of plug-in cars increased by more than 160,000 between 2013 and 2018. With the electrification industry estimated to be worth over £6billion by 2025, the next decade presents a massive opportunity.
As our society continues to grow, transformation in energy and mobility is required to create sustainable environments. The electrification of transport is shaping that low carbon future. Our vision at WMG is to enable the development of cleaner, safer and smarter vehicles and help drive sustainable mobility across the UK, which aligns with the Government’s ‘Road to Zero’ strategy, aiming to make road transport emission-free by 2050. Our research focuses on establishing advanced hybrid and electrical vehicles, including commercial, rail and marine, battery technology, supply chain, manufacturing and automation.
At WMG, we’re working with the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre to deliver on the UK’s Industrial Strategy ‘Future of Mobility’ Grand Challenge to transform the UK into a world leading battery manufacturer for vehicle electrification.
Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
Siddartha Khastgir – Head of Verification and Validation, Intelligent Vehicles at WMG, University of Warwick
The global Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) industry is estimated to be worth over £50billion by 2035, with the UK CAV industry comprising over £3billion of this. The UK Government's Industrial Strategy aims to bring fully autonomous cars without a human operator on UK roads by 2021, which will make us one of the first countries to achieve this.
The CAV vision is motivated by the potential societal benefits the technology offers – increasing safety, decreasing traffic congestion and driving lower emissions. At WMG, we’re striving to deliver these through Intelligent Vehicles research exploring Verification and Validation, Communications (i.e. 5G), Experiential Engineering, Supply Chains, Cyber Security and Cooperative Autonomy.
Our involvement in research programmes like the £25m Midlands Future Mobility focuses on “smart miles”, proving concepts and getting products to market. Led by WMG, Midlands Future Mobility is an “on-road ecosystem” comprising nine partners with a shared objective – To launch the first service offering of public road testing by mid-2020.
Times are changing.
Siddartha Khastgir, Head of Verification and Validation, Intelligent Vehicles at WMG, discusses Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, achieving the long-term vision, and testing.
The global Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) industry is estimated to be worth over £50billion by 2035, with the UK CAV industry comprising over £3billion of this. Additionally, the UK Government's Industrial Strategy aims to bring fully autonomous cars without a human operator on the UK roads by 2021, which will make us one of the first countries in the world to achieve this vision. The CAV vision is motivated by a variety of potential benefits the technology has to offer – increasing safety by reducing accidents and minimising human error, decreasing traffic congestion, driving lower emissions and freeing up drivers’ time in vehicles - enabling individuals to be more productive during the work commute or the school run.
However, in order to realise this vision and the market potential, safe introduction of CAV is crucial. The diverse technological, legislative and societal barriers associated with public deployment of CAV will require significant research to overcome.
A safer way to travel
It is suggested that in order to prove that CAV are safer than human drivers, they will need to be driven for more than 11 billion miles. While this requirement has garnered a lot of publicity, the focus needs to be on what happens in those miles (i.e. smart miles which expose failures in CAV) and not on the number of miles themselves. One will not gain much information about the capabilities of a CAV system if we drive them up and down the sunny roads of a desert.
While prototype CAV technologies have existed for some time now, ensuring the safety level of these technologies has remained at the forefront of development decisions and considerations, and has emerged as a potential hindrance to the commercialisation of CAV technologies.
Presenting hard evidence-based data and trends efficiently will have a significant impact on public adoption of this new technology and the confidence levels invested. Safety is at the forefront of the case for why a future with CAV is more reliable, more efficient and less risky – But just saying this is not enough, people want to see objective insights and make their own informed decisions on how this new technology is safer.
The task of proving this is coupled with the challenge of requiring innovative testing and safety analysis methods, as interactions between large numbers of variables and the environment demand complex solutions and experimentation.
Positioning the UK as a world leader
WMG at the University of Warwick, facilitates collaboration between academia and the public and private sector to drive innovation in science, technology and engineering. Intelligent Vehicles research, at WMG, is focused on supporting the UK’s position as the world leader in CAV research and innovation for a long lasting societal and economic benefit.
Intelligent Vehicles research capability areas include Verification and Validation, Communications (i.e. 5G), Experiential Engineering, Supply Chains, Cyber Security and Cooperative Autonomy. Demonstrating safety, commercial viability and customer desirability pose three of the main challenges associated with realising the CAV vision. The “evaluation continuum” concept for CAV, at WMG, involves using digital technology to simulate various environments and conduct repeatable test track testing before launching trials in the “real-world”. WMG research is leading to the creation of international standards (ISO) for the safe deployment of CAV.
Testing in a virtual world
WMG’s 3D simulator for Intelligent Vehicles, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), was launched in 2016 at WMG’s International Manufacturing Centre to test real-world robustness and usability of smart, CAV technology. The simulator creates virtual conditions for Intelligent Vehicles, replicating complex driving scenarios, changing lighting conditions, communications interference or unexpected events, all in a safe and repeatable environment.
The success of smart, CAV technologies, or Intelligent Vehicle technologies, will depend upon research and development, which can quickly demonstrate safety, security and robustness. Testing these technologies on-road in real-world driving situations is often complex, uncontrollable and potentially risky for early stage development. It is also reliant on the production of costly physical prototypes.
Industry trends in CAV suggest the widespread adoption of Machine Learning (ML) in the autonomous control systems. ML-systems by their structure are non-deterministic in nature, resulting in different behaviours and a lack of transparency around the CAV system. Therefore, it is often difficult to identify reasons for a particular failure in such ML-based systems and take the corrective measures.
Public road testing by mid-2020
WMG is involved in major research programmes like the £25m Midlands Future Mobility (real-world testbed), which focuses on “smart miles” by proving concepts and getting products to market with quick impact measures. Led by WMG, Midlands Future Mobility is an “on-road ecosystem” comprising nine partners from industry and local authorities all with a shared vision and objective - To launch the first service offering of public road testing by mid-2020.
WMG is also one of the seven centres in the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult and with “smart mobility” being one of the focus areas for the WMG HVM Catapult centre, their existing strong links and partnerships leave them well positioned to inform and respond to Government policy.
Achieving the Connected and Autonomous Vehicle vision
Past studies have indicated that only 50% of drivers tend to use Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADASs) like Lane Departure Warning. Increasing trust and acceptance of CAV technologies remains a challenge for the industrial and research community. Reaping the benefits of the CAV technologies will only happen when they are accepted by drivers and the wider public as a fundamental part of their everyday lives.
Challenges associated with realising the CAV vision are huge, but the benefits are even bigger. The only way we can achieve the CAV vision is through collaboration and knowledge exchange between various stakeholders – manufacturers, SMEs, suppliers, local councils and research organisations.
Search: WMG Intelligent Vehicles for more information.
WMG’s BRAINSTORM research project, with Far-UK, Composite Braiding and Transport Design International (TDI), was presented with the Technical Innovation of the Year award at the prestigious Global Light Rail Awards.
The Awards, dubbed as the industry’s Oscars, recognise outstanding achievements in the global light and urban rail sector.
Working with Far-UK, Composite Braiding and TDI, WMG researchers created a new design of an incredibly lightweight Very Light Rail (VLR) vehicle frame weaved from carbon fibre composites into a series of tubes to create a prototype demonstrator frame - the first of its kind.
Dr Darren Hughes, Associate Professor in Materials and Manufacturing explained: “Our BRAINSTORM VLR research partnership has achieved significant weight-saving, allowing VLR services to accommodate more passengers while reducing the energy required to propel the vehicle and the stress placed on the rails and road surface.
“The technology also ensures that the vehicle is tough for a long life in service, easily repairable when accidents happen and strong enough to protect the passengers on board.”
The judges praised BRAINSTORM for its innovation, vision and ambition to create not only new manufacturing processes but potentially a whole new industry.
One judge said: “This is what the industry has been waiting for decades. Aviation and automotive do this already, so it’s great to see a UK consortium bringing us up to that level. I can’t wait to see the first full vehicle next year.”
Find out more about the Global Light Rail Awards here.
The WMG Outreach Team had a busy summer term concluding with the Experience Warwick Year 10 Summer School, which ran from 3-6 July and was supported by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.
The programme was created and led by Phil Jemmett and saw a total of 42 students, aged 14 and 15 years, work on mini-engineering projects in small teams. They were supported by University of Warwick student ambassadors, research staff and Graduate Trainee Engineers from WMG.
Professor Margaret Low, Widening Participation Officer for WMG explained: “The projects were designed to introduce the youngsters to key engineering skills and to help them to recognise the importance of resilience and team work.
The Summer School, organised by Warwick Outreach and Widening Participation Team, gave the students a true insight into life at university: they got to stay in University of Warwick halls of residence, attend academic sessions and experience the social and sport facilities on campus.
Based on the success of the project, next summer it will be expanded into a full work experience programme in July 2020.
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New approach helps computers deal with conflicts and duplications when applying more than one clinical practice guideline to a patient
Researchers in WMG at the University of Warwick have developed a new method that could solve the problem of how to automate support of managing the complexities of care when applying multiple clinical practice guidelines, to patients with more than one medical issue.
This will preserve the speed and accuracy of automated treatment decisions without introducing serious treatment conflicts or wasteful duplication of treatments and procedures.
Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) are evidence-based statements or flow charts, which are used to support the decision-making of health professionals. CPGs are a body of knowledge representing best practice, based on the available evidence. Guidelines are relatively straightforward to input into a computer (a.k.a Computer Interpretable Guidelines (CIGs)), enhancing the speed and accuracy of patient care in many situations.
However, it becomes more problematic for patients who have more than one conditions. In such cases (known as multimorbid patients), the guideline recommendations for each treatment can be at odds, produce serious treatment conflicts and ultimately potential harm to the patient.
For instance, one drug-based medication might assist one condition but could worsen the other. This is particularly critical for elderly patients who are most likely to have dynamic and multiple health conditions.
The research team from WMG’s Institute of Digital Healthcare at the University of Warwick (Ms Eda Bilici, Dr George Despotou and Professor Theodoros Arvanitis) have implemented a framework of automating computer-based management of multiple Clinical Practice Guidelines to overcome this problem.
The new framework is called MuCIGREF – (Multiple Computer Interpretable Guideline Representation and Execution Framework). It allows development CIG models for each CPG. Once the CIG models are created, they are then concurrently executed to generate a unified personal plan for each individual multimorbid patient.
It ensures care optimisation to avoid unnecessary resource use or potential care duplications because of the multiple plans (e.g., carer time, lab test).
It identifies potential conflicts in the care plan and resolves them through the modification of clinical activities (e.g., activity start time, duration), or its associated care element (e.g. the drug dose level)
The researchers tested the new framework on several CPGs from the UK National Institute of Care Excellence (NICE), and they hope to conduct further work that will involve user validation and application in real-world cases.
This first stage in the work has just been published in a chapter entitled “Concurrent Execution of Multiple Computer- interpretable Clinical Practice Guidelines and Their Interrelations” in the Ebook Health Informatics Vision: From Data via Information to Knowledge
4 OCTOBER 2019
NOTES TO EDITORS
Paper Available to view at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31349252
Eda Bilici has received a PhD scholarship from WMG, University of Warwick. Prof Theodoros Arvanitis and Dr George Despotou have been supported by the EU H2020 C3-Cloud Project
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WMG is delighted to be supporting the Engineering section at STEM for Britain 2020, a poster competition at Westminster for early career researchers, for the fourth year.
Applications are now open for posters in one of five categories - Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, Mathematical Sciences and Physics.
The event itself takes place at the Houses of Parliament on Monday 9th March during British Science Week. There will be two poster exhibition and judging sessions during the day, each ending with a reception and prize-giving.
This prestigious annual event is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak directly to some of the UK’s best young researchers.
You can find out more about STEM for Britain 2020 here.
WMG’s forensic research partnership with West Midlands Police was honoured at the TCT Awards, this week, scooping top spot in the Inspex Application Award category.
The Awards recognise the innovators, technologies and collaborators behind the leading examples of Additive Manufacturing, 3D Printing, Design and Engineering across the globe.
Professor Mark Williams, Leader of the Centre for imaging, Metrology, and Additive Technology (CiMAT) at WMG explained: “We have helped to provide expert witness testimony in over 100 homicide cases by 13 different police forces across the UK. Cases include strangulation, stabbing, blunt force trauma and bone fractures.
“In April we opened a new WMG Forensic Centre for Digital Scanning and 3D printing – a research hub supporting Homicide Investigation funded by West Midlands Police to scan injuries and produce 3D print outs for use in expert testimonies.
“The scans are 1000 times more detailed than hospital scans, and can detect microscopic injuries which could otherwise be missed by conventional medical CT scanners. 3D renderings are then produced of the injuries, and their age can be identified too. The renderings are used in court to during trials to provide visual context and support the pathologist’s testimony.”
WMG’s heritage forensics was also recognised at the Awards, with Professor Williams and his team being Highly Commended for their work with Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
In this project the use of 3D scanning has rewritten natural history for a number of rare objects within Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s collection including unearthing surprising evidence that the Oxford Dodo was shot in the neck and back of the head with a shotgun. The findings cast doubt on the popular theory that the Oxford Dodo is the remains of a bird kept alive in a townhouse in 17th-century London.
Find out more about CiMAT here.
What's your definition of 'intelligent vehicles'?
'Intelligent vehicles' is a catch-all title for our research because we work on connectivity in vehicles; we work on automation in vehicles; and we work on projects that don't involve either. For instance, intelligence in a vehicle could be a way to achieve improved comfort and convenience features or to improve energy management.
What are the main markets for intelligent vehicles? Cars? Trucks? Public transport?
We're talking all of the above. It's important to remember that the market for intelligent vehicles isn't just so that people can move around more safely, comfortably and conveniently. It's about moving goods, too. Whatever market WMG is working in, however, it has to make sure it's here to solve problems and create new opportunities for customers and for our industry partners. Our role is to help UK companies exploit the significant emerging business opportunities through collaborative research, and through provision of new skills and education programmes.
Who are the main players in the intelligent vehicles market?
It's interesting because things have moved beyond traditional automotive companies now. At WMG, we do work with traditional companies and their supply base, of course; but there are new types of designer-manufacturers on the scene too. For example, in low-speed autonomous transport there are companies such as Aurrigo — the autonomous vehicle division of RDM Group — which designs and manufactures low-speed driverless pods here in Coventry. It is also important that we work with other key sectors too, such as wireless communications, simulation and transport infrastructure. Collaboration with authorities such as Transport for West Midlands is also crucial.
What are the main commercial drivers for companies in the intelligent vehicles space?
I'd put safety at the top of the agenda because, first and foremost, everyone wants to be safe. Then there are lower emissions and better energy efficiency. I don't think we can necessarily expect intelligent vehicles to reduce congestion, but they should be able to give us much better estimates about journey times. Also, there's a chance to make different modes of transports work better together — for example improving links between road and rail.
How can UK companies best take advantage of the commercial opportunities they identify?
The Midlands Future Mobility environment we, and our consortium partners, are creating is very exciting and will give real advantages to UK companies. It's going to be a place where they can come to trial their new vehicles, technologies and services in the real world, with proper public and user-engagement. That's a great opportunity for them to learn more from trials, and have the process made easier for them. It's also good for the Midlands which will experience those new technologies and services earlier than everyone else.
How do you see commercial opportunities developing in the future?
I think the whole supply chain will change dramatically. There will be an increasing importance on software, sensors, perception systems and connected components. But I think, over time, business models will change more dramatically as transport becomes more of a mobility-focused service industry, with customers buying 'journeys' rather than 'vehicles'.
Comment from Siddartha Khastgir, Head of Verification and Validation, Intelligent Vehicles at WMG, reveals how the public views advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) — and if these technologies might help with the development of driverless vehicles.
How were advanced driver-assistance systems first received by the public?
When first introduced in the mid to late 1990s, ADAS was largely given a positive reception because applications such as adaptive cruise control (ACC) and anti-lock braking (ABS) were marketed as important safety features — and safety always plays well with the public. But by the early 2000s, trust in ADAS had began to plummet. One reason for this is that the limitations of some ADAS features were not always made clear to drivers, who only discovered their shortcomings by using them. That stands to reason: if I think a system works all the time, but then it suddenly stops working, my trust in it will fall.
How is ADAS received — and used — today?
There is evidence to suggest that people want and are willing to pay for ADAS features; but there's another piece of evidence which suggests they don't use them all the time because they don't fully trust them. That said, popular ADAS features include automated emergency braking (AEB) and electronic stability control (ESC), which are intermittent applications mandated through law in new cars. Indeed, buyers of new vehicles expect mandated ADAS to be included in their purchase.
What are the challenges ADAS systems present to the automotive industry?
One of the biggest is testing because it's very important to ensure that the application is safe. There's also the challenge of getting people to accept it and use it because, as human beings, we like to be fully in control of everything we do. There's also a challenge with insurance, although more so for autonomous vehicles than ADAS. Namely, if there's an accident when the car is in autonomous mode, whose fault will it be? That's an area that's still being worked on. As technology advances, a standard MOT procedure may not be relevant anymore; plus trainees and technicians in garages will need to be re-skilled. Academia and industry needs to focus on how to get supply chains ready for these changes. At WMG we're doing a lot of work in this area with the WMG Degree Apprenticeship Centre which will be opening shortly.
Does the public's reaction to ADAS indicate how it might greet the emergence of fully autonomous cars?
I think it does. At WMG we work on a concept called Informed Safety, which is about growing trust through knowledge. If manufacturers inform users about what ADAS can and — more importantly — cannot do, then acceptance of it will be much higher.
How might use of ADAS help with the development of autonomous systems going forward?
ADAS is a first step on the journey. Some aspects of ADAS are transferrable to autonomous vehicle technology, others need to be re-engineered. Still, the big difference between ADAS and fully autonomous vehicles is that, with the former, the user still has control. With the latter they're giving up complete control. That's a big, counterintuitive jump to make.
As is becoming ever more apparent, Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) is one of today’s most exciting research and innovation themes within both industry and academia.
It is being demonstrated now on a daily basis through the media that CAM may provide real world impact on societal issues around safety, traffic flow and emissions.
Connections with the roadside infrastructure
Whilst an automated vehicle is able to make decisions on how to judge local situations, the ‘connected’ element is pivotal to enhancing the decision making process to include information from the wider road network.
For example, the ability for CAM to exchange inertia, LiDAR, camera, and radar sensor data, alongside video data from roadside infrastructure provides each vehicle with timely awareness of what is beyond their isolated line of sight. This in turn enables behaviours such as collision avoidance, adaptive speed control or platooning.
A key factor for this to happen is the networks’ ability to seamlessly share high volumes of data with appropriate timeliness.
As consumers we are all used to the ‘G’, or generation, labelling which is attached to our phones. The dominant generation of devices are now 4G, which superseded 3G devices through technical changes in the way the network was designed and led to faster speeds with more responsiveness for our current data driven lifestyle.
Enhancing collision avoidance capabilities
5G is used to describe the fifth generation of mobile communications technologies. Crucially, 5G is more than just a faster internet connection. As a direct comparison over 4G, 5G will have a peak data rate 20 times currently on offer – up to 20Gbit/s, a user experience data rate 10 times that of now – up to 100Mbit/s, but it is the fall in latencies by 10 times to 1ms that makes 5G useful in CAM.
This fall in latency (the time it takes for data to complete its journey) will be critical to enhancing collision avoidance capabilities where every millisecond counts. Also the enhanced peak date rate will allow the sharing of high definition images between infrastructure and vehicles which may assist in so called ‘smarter decisions’ that include contextual information of the situation.
The path to 5G communications providing these capabilities is ongoing, but progressive initiatives by Government from the Centre for Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) are accelerating the UKs international competitiveness.