This driverless car passed Sheffield on record-breaking 230 mile journey - and no one noticed

A driverless car has completed a 230-mile journey from the south of England to Sunderland – bypassing Sheffield without anyone noticing and breaking the record for the longest UK drive by an automatic vehicle.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 4:14 pm
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 4:14 pm

The Nissan LEAF vehicle undertook the 230-mile journey from the company's Technical Center in Cranfield, southern England, to its Sunderland factory in the north east.

The car travelled alongside conventional road users for the entirety of the trip, navigating roads with no or minimal markings, junctions, roundabouts and motorways.

It was guided by advanced positioning technology helped by GPS, radar and light detection, and ranging equipment, which allowed the vehicle to navigate a variety of roadside obstacles.

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The Nissan LEAF made a 230 mile journey.

The route took the car through South Yorkshire – without other road users noticing.

During its journey, the car passed Sheffield on the M1 and also skirted past Doncaster on the A1(M).

The project, known as HumanDrive and led by Nissan as part of a consortium, was also partially funded by the UK government and took more than 30 months to plan.

“The project allowed us to develop an autonomous vehicle that can tackle challenges encountered on UK roads that are unique to this part of the world, such as complex roundabouts and high-speed country lanes with no road markings, white lines or curbs,' said Nissan Technical Center Project Manager Bob Bateman.

The route taken by the driverless Nissan LEAF.

'Safely completing the longest autonomous drive in Britain is an incredible achievement for Nissan and the HumanDrive consortium, and a huge step towards the rollout of driverless cars on UK streets,' said junior business minister Nadhim Zahawi.

The team helped develop the LEAF's self-driving safety skills by compiling a comprehensive data set of previously encountered traffic problems and let the car's machine learning system develop strategies for coping with similar conditions.

Before finally testing the car on public roads, the team put it through months of testing, first in computer simulations to test its decision-making capacity, and later on private test courses.

Driverless car trials have not been without controversy. Uber, which has been testing its self-driving cars in the USA, temporarily paused trials after a vehicle killed a woman in Arizona.

The journey broke the record for the UK's longest autonomous drive.