The head of the UK’s Atomic Energy Authority’s RACE division has called on the country’s driverless vehicle industry to establish “big long-term” trials to get the public really engaged in CAV and “all that sits around it”.
Culham Science Centre, Oxfordshire, has officially opened its world-leading facility for the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) and has revealed a further £780,000 of funding secured by OxLEP via the government’s Local Growth Fund to expand its vehicle test capabilities across site.
Rob Buckingham spoke at the opening of the Authority’s Culham Science Centre Pit Lane development test facility. The RACE division – Remote Applications in Challenging Environments – was spawned out of robotics work in nuclear fusion research, for which technology can be used for autonomous driving. The opening event saw leading representatives from Oxfordshire’s emerging cluster of CAV companies gather to showcase their work including teams behind cutting-edge projects such as DRIVEN, OMNICAV, MaaS:CAV and CAVL4R.
The CAV facility called ‘Pit Lane’ was developed by RACE, owned by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and supported by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), with £2m of original funding for the project secured by OxLEP via the government’s Local Growth Fund.
Buckingham told a gathering of industry experts, attended by SMART Highways, that he would like to see a trial CAV service taking in the area around his centre in Oxfordshire, northwest of London, “In a really well-organised way so we can get as much evidence from that process that informs us how to invest at a larger scale in a national and international basis.”
He added that “from little acorns come the stuff that have an enduring impact over the years.”
RACE offers access to industry and academia to state-of-the-art testing facilities, remote handling equipment and expertise to design, implement and operate complete robotic and autonomous solutions.
A range of CAV-related companies attended the launch including, Aimsun, Amey, Connected Places Catapult, Latent Logic, Millbrook, MobOx, Moshon Data, Navtech Radar, Nominet, Ordnance Survey, Oxbotica, Oxfordshire County Council, Source23, StreetDrone, Telefonica, TRL, XPI Simulation, Yotta, Zenzic and Zeta Technology.