"Wildcat" now in the hands of the Department of Engineering Science

In December, BAE Systems officially handed over Wildcat to the University’s Department of Engineering Science. Thanks to a research partnership between BAE Systems and the Department this multi-million pound, driverless vehicle will be used by academic researchers to continue research into vehicle autonomy, robotics and how safety on the roads can be improved. Wildcat has been the subject of over five years of research and development by scientists at BAE Systems in Bristol.

Wildcat in front of the Radcliffe CameraThe Wildcat vehicle is a 4x4 off-road production car from Bowler, modified by BAE System's engineers. The vehicle is equipped with computer controlled steering servos, an extra braking system and a hotline into the vehicle's engine management system for speed control. In addition, wireless data links, GPS and laser ranging sensors were installed so that the Wildcat could receive instructions, navigate and avoid hitting obstacles.

Mr James Baker & Dr Paul Newman
Mr James Baker is seen here handing over the Wildcat keys to Dr Paul Newman.

This is an exciting joint project between the University of Oxford and BAE Systems”, said James Baker, Managing Director of BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre. “Over the last five years, we’ve invested over £1 million in the Wildcat project, which makes it a very unique asset for the testing of autonomous technology. It is great for us to be able to offer this technology as a test-bed for the University of Oxford and we look forward to seeing the results over the coming years.

Commenting on the arrival of Wildcat, Dr Paul Newman at the Department of Engineering Science said: “Wildcat is the result of years of advanced research and development by BAE. It will allow us to advance our own research into autonomous transport, contributing to a future of autonomy on the roads of Oxford, and around the world.

Dr Newman continued: “We are not condemned to a future of congestion and accidents. We will eventually have cars that can drive themselves, interacting safely with other road users and using roads efficiently, thus freeing up our precious time. But to do this the machines need life-long infrastructure-free navigation and that is the focus of this work.

The Department of Engineering thanks BAE Systems for donating Wildcat and for providing the resources and expertise to support this project. Watch this space for future developments in Wildcat research.

Wildcat partners
Pictured from left to right are: Prof. Guy Houlsby, Head of Department of Engineering Science; Prof. Ian Walmsley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research); Mr James Baker, Managing Director of BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre; Dr Paul Newman, Department of Engineering Science.

Wildcat research team
Pictured from left to right are members of the Wildcat research team: Ben Davis; Gabe Sibley; Ingmar Posner; Alastair Harrison; Dr Paul Newman.