Midlands Future Mobility has been awarded a new £11 million programme to evaluate connected and autonomous vehicles which will include Highways England. It further establishes Coventry, Warwickshire and the West Midlands as the heart of connected and autonomous vehicles research and development in the UK.
The £11 million Meridian 3 programme is funded by Innovate UK and brings together Highways England with Midlands Future Mobility.
This addition to the Midlands Future Mobility project will enable connected and autonomous vehicle technologies, that have been developed using simulation and test tracks, to then be evaluated on roads in real-world driving situations, providing invaluable additional learning that will enable them to become a commercially viable and desirable means of road-transport.
The evaluations will not just be on the exciting new technologies for the vehicles and infrastructure, but also on how the technology can be used and developed to bring new and enhanced services to drivers and passengers, and to enable such vehicles to provide a range of new services to communities and business.
The current Midlands Future Mobility consortium is already delivering a full suite of urban environments, in Coventry and Birmingham, to test CAVs and their related technologies and services, in order to accelerate their deployment in the real-world, benefiting the region and UK companies. This new project extends the capability to include rural and highway environments, both of which will provide new opportunities for future CAV deployment and adoption.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Self-driving cars will revolutionise the way we move goods and people around the UK. These Industrial Strategy projects and investments are exciting examples of our long-term plan in action – ensuring we build on our strengths to reap the rewards as we accelerate towards our ambition to have autonomous vehicles on UK roads by 2021.
“Autonomous vehicles and their technology will not only revolutionise how we travel, it will open up and improve transport services for those who struggle to access both private and public transport.
“The UK is building on its automotive heritage and strengths to develop the new vehicles and technologies and from 2021 the public will get to experience the future for themselves.”
“This is great news for the UK. Leading technology businesses from Japan, Germany and Spain, alongside home-grown innovators, are all investing significant sums in the UK to accelerate development of self-driving technologies” said Daniel Ruiz, CEO of Meridian. “Their business decisions are an endorsement of our capabilities in this globally competitive sector. We’ve got the talent, the tools, strong government support and a highly collaborative culture; and these are consolidating our world leading position at this stage of the transport revolution.”
WMG’s Professor Paul Jennings, and lead of the Midlands Future Mobility project said:
“The development and deployment of CAVs (connected and autonomous vehicles) is led by the desire of both policy makers and the public to make transportation safer and more efficient. Innovative technology will create business opportunities for many industry sectors, including automotive, wireless communications, infrastructure and transportation.
“Through this new project, the Midlands Future Mobility consortium will help address the different opportunities and challenges of highway and rural mobility. Working with excellent public and industry partners, we will deliver an environment that will both benefit our local communities and support UK industry.”
Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, Chairman of WMG adds:
“Meridian 3 significantly extends the work of Midlands Future Mobility and will help create a world where we can enjoy seamless, safe automated journeys. It will be a major step change in how we experience transport.”