UK-based transport companies Oxbotica and TRL have piloted the use of the Code of Practice, a safety framework drafted for the cost-effective deployment of autonomous vehicles in unstructured off-road environments.

The live trial, carried out in a UK quarry using off-road vehicles, was intended to demonstrate and highlight the Code’s potential to work across a range of vehicles and industries.

As part of the trial, the team deployed a Ford Ranger and Range Rover Evoque, each featuring Oxbotica’s autonomy software platform.

The vehicles were also integrated with a full suite of sensors, including LiDAR, RADAR and stereo cameras.

Oxbotica’s software is designed to enable seamless transition between sensors to operate across multiple domains and environments, allowing vehicles to drive with or without maps.

TRL project lead Dr Ianto Guy said: “This Code of Practice seeks to provide high-level guidance to organisations, in all sectors of the off-highway industry, on the ways in which working practices should be adapted to ensure that the adoption of autonomy is as smooth and safe as possible.

“It is hoped that off-highway industries will use this code of practice as a starting point for discussion and build on the recommendations made here to develop comprehensive best practice guidelines.”

Typical off-highway environments such as mines, quarries, farms and refineries have less structured scenarios and more varied hazards. These environments lack universal highway rules such as speed limits or junction etiquette.

The Code of Practice is expected to help standardise across industries and allow learnings from each domain to be shared in future for potential improvement.

The framework is also expected to help organisations in transitioning to new working practices with no impact on safety.

Oxbotica Technology vice-president Ben Upcroft said: “Consortiums such as this are a key stepping stone in ensuring the safe operation of autonomous vehicles in complex scenarios, and enabling the scale-up to full commercial deployment in industry settings.”

In January, Oxbotica announced it had raised $47m through a Series B funding round led by bp ventures.