Located in the West Midlands and spanning the cities of Coventry and Birmingham, it will allow connected and autonomous vehicles to be trialled on urban, rural, suburban and highway roads.
Work is underway on a 300km test environment for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) in the UK.
Located in the West Midlands, it will span the cities of Coventry and Birmingham and allow the vehicles to be trialled on urban, rural, suburban and highway roads.
The project is run by the Midlands Future Mobility consortium of public and private sector organisations and academia, including Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), WMG (University of Warwick), Coventry University, Highways England, Amey, Costain, MIRA, AVL and Wireless Infrastructure Group.
The route has been developed by TfWM in collaboration with Coventry City Council, Birmingham City Council and Solihull Council and provides over 300km of inner city, suburban and rural roads on which to fully assess vehicle performance in a wide range of real-world locations and situations.
It includes infrastructure such as smart CCTV, weather stations, communications units, and GPS. Initially connected vehicles will be trialled along the route.
Vehicles will not be driving themselves during the early stages of research and will have a driver and occasionally a second person monitoring how the vehicles are working.
In the future, autonomous vehicles will be trialled on the route, however these will also be closely monitored by safety operators ready to take over immediately in the event of a problem.
“Connected and autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to radically change our lives, and I am pleased the West Midland is leading the way in this sector with research facilities and production plants already in place”
These autonomous vehicles will appear gradually as more advanced driver assistance systems are tested paving the way, such as lane centring and auto-speed limiting technology.
“Connected and autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to radically change our lives, and I am pleased the West Midlands is leading the way in this sector with research facilities and production plants already in place,” said mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who leads TfWM.
“I am determined our region will become a global leader in electric and autonomous vehicle technology, as I know we have the skills, facilities, and drive to compete with any other city or region in the world.
“Seeing our roads being used as a test bed for this new technology is both exciting and a step forward, and this vital research will help pave the way to bring key investment and jobs to the region as we look to bounce back from the Covid-19 crisis.”
Midlands Future Mobility claims the route itself causes no disruption to drivers or the homes along it, as it uses existing road infrastructure 95 per cent of the time. Phase one of the route includes the University of Warwick, Coventry ring road, roads in Meriden, Solihull and central Birmingham around the Jewellery Quarter.
Later this year the route will be extended to include rural and highway roads and span up to 350km.
Project consortium member Costain and contractor Siemens Mobility have begun work on the route, which will officially open for trials later this year. Both firms, are of course, practicing social distancing in the construction of important technical features such as CCTV networks along the route.
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