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A new £1m project will see Loughborough University team up with Highways England to assess the challenges that connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) will face on the UK’s motorways.

Researchers will assess how roadwork operation, lanes, junctions and lane markings could impact on the performance of CAVs.

The project, named CAVIAR (Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Infrastructure Appraisal Readiness), is being carried out in partnership with Highways England and construction company Galliford Try.

Mohammed Quddus, Loughborough University professor of intelligent transport systems, said: “Although CAVs are designed with existing infrastructure in mind, ensuring they are safe to operate on motorways will require evaluating how road layouts affect their operational boundaries such as their ability to sense lanes and make appropriate decisions.”

The team will kit out a vehicle with a plethora of sensors including lidar, radars, cameras, GPS and the V2X communication facility to collect real-world motorway operational data on the flow and configuration of the traffic through different lane structures, junction layouts and stretches of roadworks.

Dr Craig Morton of the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering (ABCE) said: “This data will allow us to evaluate whether a CAV can navigate these situations by conducting a series of controlled experiments at an off-road test facility.

Jon de Souza of Galliford Try, said: “The recommendations from CAVIAR will support contractors such as Galliford Try to improve their offer as well as supporting highways operators to make better long-term capital and operational investment decisions.”

John Mathewson, senior ITS advisor of Highways England, said the research will help Highways England better understand how CAVS would operate on motorways and major A roads and the challenges they may face.

“It is a great example of partnership working between academia and industry. The results could help us shape how we invest in future road design and maintenance,” he added.