An AECOM-led consortium has secured more than £4.2 million of funding from Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) to deliver a pilot scheme that it says could pave the way for the use of connected and autonomous vehicles to move people around airports, hospitals, business parks, shopping and tourist centres.
The pilot project includes the design, development and testing of new autonomous and connected pods on-demand (PODs), culminating in on-road public trials at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Comprising 20 partnering organisations, the AECOM-led CAPRI consortium brings together academic institutions, businesses, SMEs and public sector authorities with a range of skills, knowledge and needs in the connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) arena. The project will include the development of the next generation of PODs, as well as the systems and technologies that will allow the vehicles to navigate safely and seamlessly in both pedestrian and road environments.
The consortium will also look at how the network can harness data to enable location, positioning and on-demand services. It is anticipated that evidence collected through the pilot will provide sufficient detail to enable and support a new vehicle classification for the PODs.
Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, said, “The race for developing connected and autonomous vehicles is accelerating and as a Government we are determined to build on our strengths and ensure the UK is at the forefront of this revolution.
“We have an excellent record in innovation in the UK and through our Industrial Strategy, we will build on our strengths so the UK auto sector remains world-leading. That is why we have announced support today for CAPRI as schemes like these will be key to turning research and development into anchoring future production.”
Lee Street, Director & Head of Technology Services – Europe, AECOM, added, “Connected and autonomous mobility services could potentially be used across a wide range of markets from airports and hospitals to business parks, shopping and tourist centres so there are clear economic and service benefits to this pilot. Our CAPRI consortium brings together academic and business partners, and will help strengthen the UK’s position as a world-leader in the development of CAVs.”
The project includes four trials, with the first on private land at Filton Airfield near Bristol where consortium member YTL is developing what it calls a “major new community”. The aim of this trial will be to test and validate the performance of the new generation PODs. The second trial will test a public service in a shopping centre car park to assess performance in busy pedestrian areas. The final two trials will be at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a large and diverse estate that includes retail, recreation, residential and business centres. The first of these trials will test a public on-demand mobility service in pedestrian areas, with the PODs identifying and navigating the best routes. The final public trial will test the PODs on a network of roads around the park, with the service interacting with traffic control systems.
The Consortium says an important aspect of the scheme will be safety and security. For the first time, the project will apply accidentology analysis to PODs to identify potential causes of accidents that will require testing and evaluation in the real-world, while using state-of-the-art techniques to simulate other scenarios, therefore reducing the need for real-world testing. The consortium will also undertake a system-wide cyber-physical security analysis to identify how to protect the POD systems from being compromised.
The CAPRI consortium was awarded the funding as part of a CCAV and Innovate UK competition to invest £35 million in industry-led research and development projects on CAVs. The aim of the competition was to find projects that would deliver technical solutions for CAVs that provide real-world benefits to users and where the commercial benefit is clear.