Companies developing self-driving vehicles will soon have a new option for evaluating their safety, with a unique autonomous vehicle development centre being constructed in the midlands region of the UK.
The centre, named Assured CAV, has been designed by automotive engineering consultancy, Horiba MIRA, to enable the automotive industry, policy makers and government to develop autonomous vehicle technology, ensuring it will respond appropriately to the wide range of eventualities seen on public roads, before being released to consumers. The facilities are due to open in March 2021 and represent a £100 million (US$136m) investment made over recent years.
In addition to offering vehicle testing facilities, the centre is designed to offer an environment where organisations can develop and verify self-driving technologies, and apply learnings to influence future legislation, policy and insurance relating to autonomous vehicles.
Features of the Assured CAV facility include:
- 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 in line with international regulatory protocols
- Urban environments where vehicles will experience pedestrians and 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, which will then find its own parking space, returning to the passenger at a designated waiting area when requested
- An ultra-fast 5G mobile private network supported by Vodafone, which will enable vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications to be verified, as well as tests of infotainment and cybersecurity
- A range of digital replicas where simulated testing can be scaled, building on the physical testing. The virtual facilities can also be accessed virtually so that technology can be tested remotely from anywhere in the world
- An on-site network of campus roads complemented by a 300km (186 miles) network of adjacent CAV-enabled public roads equipped with a range of intelligent transport systems enabling real-world road trials
- A full complement of advanced robotic targets and supporting junction layouts adhering to relevant protocols for a full suite of ADAS testing
The Assured CAV facility supports the UK Government’s industrial strategy to establish the country 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 £62 billion per year by 2030.The 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.
Declan Allen, managing director at Horiba MIRA stated, “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.”
The site is intended to enable manufacturers of self-driving technology to design, develop and test designs from a single, globally accessible location – bringing benefits in terms of logistics by reducing prototypes and team movements. Automakers can also base themselves at Horiba MIRA’s MIRA Technology Park and sit alongside over 35 established mobility providers working on the latest technologies.
Chris Reeves, head of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies at Horiba MIRA, said: “Supported by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles as part of CAM Testbed UK, Assured CAV demonstrates that Horiba MIRA is again at the forefront of Government and industry’s collaborative approach to ensuring the UK is the best place in the world to develop and deploy CAM.
“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.”