West Midlands consortium tests connected vehicles

Move comes as Government announces funding for projects to support development of self-parking cars

A trio of public sector organisations in the West Midlands have joined with a consortium in a project to support the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

Transport for West Midlands, the University of Warwick and Coventry University are among those taking part in the Midlands Future Mobility programme, which will involve making more than 50 miles of roads in the region available for tests.

Dashboard of self-driving carThis will involve the deployment of new roadside infrastructure including smart vehicle monitoring, data analytics and 5G ready wireless networks.

It will enable organisations from different industries to test new technologies and service with the aim of improving integration. It is also expected to play a significant role in shaping the development of the transport sector in the UK.

The project is being backed by £25 million from industrial partners and Innovate UK as part of the Meridian Mobility initiative.

Dr Danial Ruis, chief executive officer at Meridian Mobility, said: “This is a fundamental pillar of our national capability for the testing and development of connected and self-driving vehicle technologies. 

“The UK’s CAV development ecosystem leverages world leading transport policy and collaborative investment to accelerate the adoption of the technology and systems which will deliver societal benefits at the earliest opportunity.” 

Parking challenge

The news came on the day the Government announced it has put up £30 million to support projects on the development of self-parking cars as part of the Mobility Grand Challenge within the Industrial Strategy.

The money will go to successful bids through the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and Meridian, the Government’s hub for testing autonomous technology.

Innovate UK will run two competitions, one of the which will provide up to £25 million for up to six infrastructure projects to develop CAV testing infrastructure for automated parking and interurban automated driving on rural roads and highways.

The other will provide £5 million for a data exchange capability to provide a commercial marketplace for CAV data from vehicles. It will be aimed at helping technology developers, fleet operators and road network owners to deliver better social, environmental and cost-effective transport systems.

Business Minister Richard Harrington said: “The UK is already leading the way in developing this technology and today’s funding will bring self-driving vehicles one step closer to becoming a normal feature on UK roads and could, in time, make learning to parallel park a thing of the past.”

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0