Roads from Birmingham to Coventry will host the United Kingdom’s first testing grounds for autonomous cars, reports Enterprise IOT Insights. The 300 kilometers, or 186 miles, of the Midlands Future Mobility route will include highway, suburban, and rural traffic opportunities.
“The West Midlands has a rich history of the automotive industry, and to see it is now progressing into autonomous vehicles feels momentous,” said John Fox, project director for Midlands Future Mobility.
The Midlands Future Mobility project is under the umbrella of the Connected and Autonomous Mobility (CAM) Testbed UK initiative. The project coordinates the efforts of six facilities which test and develop connected and automated vehicles. Funding comes from the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. Zenzic (formerly Meridian), an entity created by government and industry to focus on the UK’s capability in the self-driving sector, also oversees large projects like bringing in Consortium member Costain and contractor Siemens Mobility to deploy relevant infrastructure.
With prospects of providing a £62 billion (approximately $78 billion) boost to the U.K. economy by 2030, the autonomous vehicle industry receives significant government support. During the early road testing, the vehicles will include a driver. Support infrastructure helping to guide the vehicle will include GPS, CCTV, weather stations, and communications units. A second person may also ride along to assist with monitoring systems. As more data is gathered, the vehicles will assume additional driving responsibilities.
Managing director for intelligent traffic systems at Siemens Mobility in the U.K., Wilke Reints said: “With connected and autonomous vehicles offering huge potential, this project is a demonstration of the U.K.’s capabilities in this fast-moving sector. It allows us to demonstrate how smart technology enables vehicles to be connected via high-speed, high-capacity wireless infrastructure across a whole road network.”