In a major leap towards the widespread adoption of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), the UK’s first facility to test and support the development of automated parking solutions is under construction in the Midlands.
The government-backed ‘Trusted Autonomous Parking’ (Park-IT) project is being delivered by Nuneaton-based global engineering firm, Horiba MIRA, in partnership with Coventry University. As part of the project, the two partners will develop a multi-storey car park, on-road parking bays and parking lot environments on Horiba MIRA’s Proving Ground, providing real-world parking situations to support the development of self-parking solutions. The autonomous parking areas will be co-located in the MIRA City Circuit, a safe, comprehensible and fully controllable purpose-built ‘cityscape’ test track environment, allowing verification of the transition from an urban driving environment into a dedicated parking facility.
The Park-IT facility will be supported by a ‘digital twin’ so users can replicate parking scenarios in simulation, enabling a wide range of CAV driving and parking scenarios to be tested in a virtual environment before being validated at the facility. Park-IT is one of eight funded projects that create Testbed UK led by the Center for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and Zenzic (formerly Meridian), the self-driving hub organization that was created by Government and industry to accelerate the CAV technology revolution in the UK.
Self-driving parking systems are expected to bring significant benefits to the public through the services it will enable, such as autonomous valet parking. In order to realize those benefits, challenges within the self-driving environment, such as tight locations, restricted visibility, lack of GPS (in covered locations), must be addressed. Park-IT will provide a world-class location to solve those challenges, and test innovative services, in a safe and configurable environment.
The latest activity at the Horiba MIRA facility will play an instrumental role in ensuring the functional performance and safety of self-parking vehicles, as the UK Government continues to push ahead with its ambition to see autonomous vehicles on public roads at scale, in the foreseeable future. The Park-IT project follows recent success for the partnership, which is also delivering TIC-IT (Trusted Intelligent CAV); a bespoke test track at MIRA’s Proving Ground that will be a safe setting in which CAVs can be tested to the limits of controllability.
“As the Government continues to press ahead with its vision for an autonomous and connected transport sector, it is vital that the integrity of all technologies is fully tested and verified to ensure consumer confidence,” noted Chris Reeves, head of CAV technologies at Horiba MIRA. “Park-IT brings a unique CAV testing facility to the UK that will help to ensure the next generation of connected and autonomous vehicles are safe and secure. Autonomous valet parking will be one of the first widescale adopted examples of highly automated driving, and the creation of Park-IT will allow for the validation of this technology in a safe and repeatable way. Combining our extensive engineering expertise with Coventry University’s research capability enables us to build upon existing knowledge and projects to deliver a comprehensive testing and development ecosystem for CAVs.”