Leading Self-Driving Vehicle Test Facilities Open for Business

Leading Self-Driving Vehicle Test Facilities Open for Business
  • Six purpose-built workshops completed to support mechanical, integration and software development for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), from passenger cars to buses
  • WiFi, 4G and 5G private networks indoors and outdoors will enable secure big data transfer
  • Test tracks emulate rural and urban environments, including street and roadside furniture, ego vehicles and ADAS targets, for safe development and experimentation

Millbrook has officially opened its Autonomous Village, a 6,300 sq ft facility, built to support the development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs). It was opened on the first day of the co-located Cenex-LCV and Cenex-Connected Automated Mobility events by the Minister of State for the Future of Transport, George Freeman.

The Autonomous Village comprises six purpose-built workshops constructed to support mechanical, integration and software development for self-driving vehicles, from passenger cars to buses. Whatever the application, the convenience of being able to do mechanical work on the vehicle, download and process data and run directly onto the test tracks and private roads, all from the same location, is invaluable for customers.

With 70km of secure test tracks, a private, 5G-enabled mobile network and supporting physical and virtual infrastructure, Millbrook Proving Ground is the perfect location for collecting data for automated driving and safely challenging the systems. Customers run a range of test routes around the site, with varying levels of complexity (including through moving test environments created using synchronised ADAS targets), and can analyse the data either at the end of the route or in real time.

Using the virtual Millbrook Proving Ground, the data can be used to create tailored simulations to advance software development. Millbrook has a simulator suite on site for safety driver training and in-depth analysis. Millbrook also supports customers with hardware requirements. It has a range of reference vehicles, driving robots and vehicle and road user targets, all used to develop vehicle control algorithms and refine self-driving software.

Minister of State for the Future of Transport, George Freeman, said: "The UK’s long term potential for self-driving vehicles is huge, and could help improve road safety, tackle loneliness and create economic opportunity. The UK’s first autonomous village will be the perfect location for dedicated development and the safe testing of self-driving technology. I commend Millbrook for leading the way in helping take autonomous vehicles from testing centres to the road.”

Daniel Ruiz, Zenzic CEO, commented: “The Autonomous Village delivers world-class facilities for testing self-driving vehicles and is an instrumental part of Testbed UK, which is coordinated by Zenzic. The unique set of environments and facilities that comprise Testbed UK are the only places worldwide where ideas can be taken from concept to development all within a three-hour drive.”

Alex Burns, President of Millbrook, said: “We are committed to providing flexible, efficient workspaces for our customers, equipped to meet all their test and development needs. The official opening of our Autonomous Village is an exciting step forward in connected and self-driving vehicle development in the UK.”

The official opening of the Autonomous Village signals that the Millbrook-Culham Urban Test Bed, run in in collaboration with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority's centre for Remote Applications for Challenging Environments (RACE), is open for business. The test bed is co-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) through Zenzic, as part of the “Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Test Beds” competition.

In addition to the facilities at Millbrook Proving Ground, the Millbrook-Culham Urban Test Bed offers 10km of roads and purpose-built workspaces on the secure United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority site at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire. The over 2,000-strong adult population on site enables testing to capture human aspects of real-world operation for CAVs, extending to Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), in a semi-controlled and safe way.

Dr Rob Buckingham, RACE’s Director, said: “The opening of the Autonomous Village is a significant milestone in the development of urban test bed. The ability of customers to test, according to need, on any element of the 80km of tracks that we collectively manage makes the testbed an unique environment in which to explore the fusion of real-world and simulated environments, real-time connectivity to challenge software, sensor, cyber security system and telecommunications developers.”

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