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New autonomous vehicle development centre nears completion
Self-driving vehicles are a significant step closer to becoming a reality on public roads with the construction of a revolutionary new ecosystem nearing completion in the Midlands.
Created by HORIBA MIRA, the new, globally-unique autonomous vehicle development centre – known as ASSURED CAV – has been specifically designed to enable the automotive industry, policy makers and government to develop autonomous vehicle technology, ensuring it is robust to the wide range of eventualities seen on public roads, before being released to consumers.
Far more than a location for vehicle testing, ASSURED CAV will provide a place where organisations can lead in both the development and verification of self-driving technologies, but also where the learning can be applied to influence future legislation, policy and insurance, to ensure the future of autonomous vehicles will improve lives.
ASSURED CAV’s combination of facilities and capabilities are set to open in March 2021 and is a culmination of £100m investment made over recent years – it includes:
• A high-speed facility enabling autonomous vehicles to be tested at the limit of controllability – specifically designed for performing scenario-based testing, the facility will enable the testing of driving scenarios such as traffic merging and lane keep assist to be conducted to international regulatory protocols.
• Urban environments where vehicles will experience pedestrians, cyclists, complex junctions and on-street parking.
• 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.
• 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 pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit uncertainty.
Declan Allen, managing director at HORIBA MIRA, said: “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.
“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.”
Chris Reeves, head of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies at HORIBA MIRA, added: “Although we’ve seen huge strides made in CAV technologies in recent years, the overriding challenge for the industry is giving consumers confidence that CAVs are safe enough to be on our roads. Our new ASSURED CAV ecosystem does just that and is a significant milestone in helping CAV developers bring their vehicles to market. Not only will ASSURED CAV help to ensure a seamless development process, it will also foster the innovations and cross-industry partnerships needed to speed up the self-driving revolution and realise the huge economic and societal benefits it will bring.”
ASSURED CAV enables manufacturers of self-driving technology to design, develop and test them from one globally accessible location – bringing with it benefits in terms of logistics by reducing prototypes and team movements. ASSURED CAV negates the need to send teams and products to multiple locations to fulfil engineering and test requirements, reducing time and costs in an industry where the level of required investment is incredibly high.
As an added asset, automakers can base themselves at HORIBA MIRA through the MIRA Technology Park and sit alongside over 35 established mobility providers working on the latest technologies.