Millbrook and RACE, the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s centre for Remote Applications in Challenging Environments, have taken significant steps in providing connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) developers with practical testing solutions in the UK. The two organisations, which formed a partnership last year, are delivering a comprehensive urban test bed for self-driving car development and validation.
Millbrook and RACE are putting in place the physical infrastructure essential for supporting efficient and safe development of autonomous driving aids. As a result, they are able to offer innovators everything from road furniture and real-time connectivity to reference vehicles and simulation facilities – perfect for an industry keen to speed up its progress and gain a competitive advantage.
Latest developments include the installation of dedicated 4G and WiFi capabilities to provide a common, seamless and connected experience for users across the two sites. As part of a separate project, Millbrook is also hosting the UK 5G transportation test bed at its proving ground, enabling it to take connectivity and wireless communications, including V2X, to the next level.
The organisations are collaborating to deliver virtual models of both sites; Millbrook’s test tracks have been digitally modelled with 1mm surface accuracy and the Culham Science Centre will be modelled next year. The first simulator will be delivered this year and installed at Millbrook in early 2019; it will enable customers to test their software across simulated and physical environments.
A number of StreetDrone open source reference vehicles are being commissioned at Millbrook. These can be programmed to simulate traffic, to be controlled autonomously or remotely, and to test autonomous driving software. They can be given different steering, braking and acceleration characteristics to emulate a range of vehicles without the need to bypass the CANBUS, speeding up valuable experimentation and development time.
To support mechanical, integration and software development, Millbrook and RACE are building more working spaces. Designs of the buildings to form part of the Autonomous Village at Millbrook and the units at Culham are aligned to ensure a similar experience for users across locations.
“We are very proud to be actively engaged with, and supporting, the emergence of a wide range of technologies and innovation in the UK”, said Alex Burns, President of Millbrook. “Safety is paramount in everything that we do, so it is part of our mission to facilitate the safe passage of these technologies from concepts to the real world. By providing a complementary range of environments and experiences across the two sites, we are helping to ensure safety throughout the development process.”
Dr Rob Buckingham, RACE’s Director, said: “The semi-controlled physical environment at Culham Science Centre, as a logical extension of the controlled proving ground environment, enables connected and autonomous vehicle technologies to encounter real people and traffic at more advanced stages of their development. We are working to facilitate safe transitions and seamless communication between the two sites.”
Millbrook and RACE announced plans to launch a unique, controlled urban environment test bed in October 2017. The project is co-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) through Meridian, as part of the “Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Test Beds” competition.
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