SELF driving vehicles could become a reality within the next decade, according to Jaguar Land Rover following a successful trial which saw a Range Rover Sport drive itself around a busy city ring road.
The prototype self-driving Range Rover Sport handled the complex Coventry Ring Road without the help of a driver, successfully changing lanes, merging with traffic and exiting junctions at the speed limit of 40mph.
The trial was part of the £20 million government-funded project, UK Autodrive, which ends this month after a three-year programme.
Jaguar Land Rover engineers had completed significant self-driving technology testing on closed tracks before heading onto public roads.
The Range Rover Sport was chosen for its performance and existing features, such as adaptive cruise control, and was modified to include additional navigation sensors which use radar, cameras and 3D imagery providing the car with the ability to navigate itself.
The vehicle can now autonomously handle roundabouts, traffic lights, pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles on complicated roads and can also park itself, says Jaguar Land Rover.
Mark Cund, the company's autonomous vehicle research manager, says: "The Coventry Ring Road is known for its complicated slip roads and exits. It makes for very challenging conditions, especially when under pressure in the rush hour.
"Our self-driving car is not impacted by the same pressure, frustrations or fatigue that a driver may experience and so it's capable of turning a potentially very stressful situation into a completely stress-free one."
The company says that it plans to make self-driving vehicles a reality within ten years and among the innovations the company's engineers have developed as part of UK Autodrive are safety-enhancing and emission reducing technology which use the internet to connect vehicles to each other and to infrastructure such as traffic lights.
JLR is working on fully-and semi-automated vehicle technologies which will offer the choice of an engaged or automated drive. The company says its vision is to make its self-driving vehicles the most capable in the widest range of terrain and weather conditions always putting the driver in command with the option to resume control.