UK autonomous vehicle development centre nears completion

autonomous vehicle development centre

An autonomous vehicle development centre is nearing completion in the UK’s Midlands which will enable leading manufacturers of self-driving technology to design, develop and test vehicles from one globally accessible location.

Developed by automotive engineering company Horiba Mira, Assured Cav aims to provide the “most complete environment” and ecosystem for industry, policy-makers and government to develop autonomous vehicle technology.

Future mobility

Assured Cav wants to accelerate future mobility and ensure vehicles are sufficiently robust to cope with the wide range of eventualities seen on public roads, before being released to consumers.

It will provide more than testing facilities and claims to be “a lighthouse” in the CAV industry and a place where organisations can lead in both the development and verification of self-driving technologies. It also wants to facilitate the application of learning to influence future legislation, policy and insurance, to ensure the future of autonomous vehicles will improve lives.

The facilities and capabilities are set to open in March 2021 and are a culmination of £100m investment made over recent years. They will include a high-speed facility enabling autonomous vehicles to be tested at the limit of controllability and which is specifically designed for performing scenario-based testing such as traffic merging and lane keep assist. These scenarios will be conducted to international regulatory protocols.

It will also offer urban environments where vehicles will experience pedestrians and cyclists, complex junctions and on-street parking and a purpose-built multi-storey car park which will support the development of automated valet parking. Car passengers will exit their vehicle, for it to then find its own parking space, returning to the passenger at a designated waiting area when requested.

Other features include:

  • an ultrafast 5G mobile private network supported by Vodafone, which will allow vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications to be verified, as well as testing infotainment and cybersecurity
  • an extensive portfolio of digital replicas where simulated testing can be scaled, reinforcing physical testing. It can also be accessed virtually so technology can be tested from anywhere in the world
  • an on-site network of campus roads complemented by a 300km network of adjacent CAV-enabled public roads equipped with a range of intelligent transport systems enabling real-world road trials
  • full complement of advanced robotic targets and supporting junction layouts adhering to relevant protocols for a full suite of advanced driver assistance systems (Adas) testing.

Assured CAV supports the government’s industrial strategy to establish the UK as a leader in the development and commercialisation of CAVs, which, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), could yield the UK economy £62bn per year by 2030. The world-class hub will also strengthen the case for investing in the UK automotive industry at a time when the sector faces intense pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit uncertainty.

“We’ve been on a journey to create Assured Cav; it represents many years of intense research and investment to bring together one of the most comprehensive CAV validation ecosystems in the world,” said Declan Allen, managing director at Horiba Mira.

He added: “At a time when the automotive industry is facing significant headwinds, we’ve been steadfast in our approach to delivering this investment and we’re extremely proud to provide an ecosystem which will allow the automotive industry, as well as complementary industries, to develop and prove their self-driving technology.

“This is a unique opportunity for companies to accelerate their activities to lead the industry – it will allow companies to bring forward their activities in this sector in an efficient and optimised manner, enabling them to solve the real-world problems of integrating their automated products into the public roads, whilst also importantly achieving consumer acceptance.”

Assured CAV is supported by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles as part of CAM Testbed UK.


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