Driverless car projects set to share in £51m funding initiative


Four projects across five locations in the West Midlands been awarded £51m in funding to fully test the latest Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technology.

The funding will be used to upgrade testing infrastructure for the new technology.

HORIBA MIRA in Nuneaton will build a new site alongside its existing vehicle test tracks where automated vehicles can be tested at the limits of their speed and handling to ensure they are safe.

Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire and Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) based in the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire will set up a range of different test areas mimicking increasingly realistic city driving environments, where automated vehicles can be tested before being taken onto public roads.

Two projects will adapt real world locations for testing of automated vehicles in live traffic. This will see TRL lead a project to set up live test environments in Greenwich and Stratford’s Olympic Park in London, while Warwick Manufacturing Group will set up real world test environments in Coventry and Birmingham.

Collectively, the projects represent a total of £80m co-investment by industry and government through Meridian; a partnership between the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), Automotive Council and the Advanced Propulsion Centre – with the £51m from government.

All the CAV projects will be fully operational and advancing technology development in this sector within the next 18 to 24 months.

The Trusted Intelligent Connected Autonomous Vehicle consortium – known as TIC-IT – is being led by HORIBA MIRA, in partnership with Coventry University.

Dr Geoff Davis, Chief Strategy Officer at HORIBA MIRA said: “Not only does CAV technology bring huge benefits to society, but it also creates substantial opportunity for inward investment. In order to turn this opportunity into reality, the UK must accelerate the development, deployment and commercialisation of CAV technology; something we are delighted to be supporting with the development of TIC-IT.

“Developed in partnership with Coventry University, the new facility will bring a unique testing capability to the UK, allowing us to increase the level of activity required to develop CAVs to ensure they are safe and secure for real-world environments.”

Paul Noon, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Innovation at Coventry University, said: “It is very encouraging that government supports our view that collaboration between academia and industry is vitally important. We have long standing links with HORIBA MIRA and our combined expertise is driving innovation as well as boosting skills and knowledge within the burgeoning intelligent transport sector. We are excited to be working with HORIBA MIRA once again on the new TIC-IT project.”

West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, said: “The West Midlands is already emerging as a global centre for this industry but if we are to become the outright leader, we need to ensure testing can take place close to the design and manufacture.

“This is a bold step for the West Midlands and offers us not only a golden opportunity for our region’s economy, but could genuinely help change the world.”

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