Self Driving Track Days to host open autonomous testing events across Europe


Europe’s first open testing event for autonomous vehicle development will take place in the UK later this year, as the Self Driving Track Days start-up launches a series of events across the continent to help accelerate development of self-driving car technology.

Aimed at teams developing autonomous vehicle technologies and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), these private test-track events, which will be held every three months, will provide safe and secure venues to conduct research and development on a number of tracks in a variety of locations around Europe, starting in the UK at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground (below) in Leicestershire on November 15-16. Future events will take place at: Driving Center Castellet, France, on February 21-22, 2017; Longcross Test Track, Surrey, UK, on May 10-11, 2017; and Zentrum Teesdorf, Austria, on July 28-29, 2017. Automotive companies, students or startups can also form multi-partner teams at free networking meet-up events being hosted at Google Campus London and AutoWorld Brussels, both taking place in September.

“Driverless vehicle technology is a young discipline which pools expertise from different areas of mechanical, electrical and software engineering skills,” explained Alex Lawrence-Berkeley, co-founder of the event organizers, Self Driving Track Days. “We’re keen to close the skills gaps between education and what industry is telling us is missing in the talent pool. These events will bring people together and help to develop their skills, and experience to be ready for the critical next step for their products. These track days are for innovators, inventors and researchers. Teams at commercial, academic or hobbyist level can explore autonomous vehicle technology in a safe, affordable and collaborative environment, and have access to specialist training that only experienced industry professionals can deliver.”

Lawrence-Berkeley continued, “The UK has a fine heritage in automotive engineering and motorsport, and we intend to complement those industries by working closely with venues, industry associations, and trade bodies, to ensure they can also benefit from this new activity in developing safety protocols, and spread these new skills around those industries as well. Likewise we will be looking forward to working with the many established commercial and academic automotive engineering competitions which are developing driverless series in the future.”

The Transport Systems Catapult (TSC), which is overseeing the LUTZ Pathfinder driverless vehicle project in Milton Keynes, has endorsed the initiative. Andrew Everett, chief strategy officer at TSC, commented, “We welcome the Self Driving Track Days initiative as a great opportunity to develop the UK skills base in this rapidly advancing area. Meanwhile the connected and autonomous vehicle market has one of the highest predicted global growth rates amongst emerging transport technologies.

“The UK already has strong expertise in these areas, but skills gaps are being highlighted in our research that need to be filled as the technology matures. Nurturing talent and encouraging new businesses and innovators to enter this space, through initiatives like Self Driving Track Days, will be vital if we are to capture a significant share of the market.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).