A consortium led by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has been awarded £13.4m (US$17.7m) of the government’s £51m (US$67.3m) connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) testbed funding to create a world-leading, real-world test environment in London for the development of future mobility systems.
The initial round of funding is part of the £100m (US$131.8m) UK CAV testbed competitive fund and is the first investment through MERIDIAN, a new government-backed and industry-led hub to develop a coordinated national ecosystem of CAV testing infrastructure.
The consortium comprises world leading expertise from across the transport and technology sectors including TRL, DG Cities, Cisco, Costain, Cubic, Loughborough University, Transport for London (TfL), and the London Legacy Development Corporation. Delivery partners include Millbrook Proving Ground and the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre.
The ambitious project will see the creation of a Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) in London, based in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and nearby Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.
The SMLL: London will provide a real-world urban testbed in a complex public environment, capable of demonstrating and evaluating the use, performance and benefits of CAV technology and mobility services.
The Living Lab will be designed to operate as an open innovation environment where innovators in the automotive sector, transport service and technology providers, SMEs, local and central government and research bodies, can come together to develop technical and business solutions for the future deployment of smart mobility systems.
“Users of the SMLL will be able to collaboratively or independently test their ideas, technology and services in a real-world environment,” explained Paul Zanelli, director of engineering and technology at TRL.
“This exciting project will see us working closely with industry to develop the evidence case for bringing new products and services to market, and with local and national governments to address the challenges and opportunities of future mobility. At the heart of the Living Lab will be continuous engagement with the public, to help facilitate a greater understanding of the implications of autonomous technology, and enable them to have their say during this huge transition in urban mobility.”
Michael Hurwitz, TfL’s director of transport innovation, noted, “It’s important that we support and learn from innovation that could improve transport across London. Autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to significantly change travel; that’s why we are working closely on this project to ensure the development of these types of vehicles is safe, environmentally friendly, and benefits the city.”