autonomous vehicles ecosystem graphic

Smart Mobility Living Lab planned for London, funded by UK Government

A consortium led by TRL, the global centre for innovation in transport and mobility, has been awarded £13.4m of the government’s £51m Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) test bed funding to create a world-leading, real-world test environment in London for the development of future mobility solutions.

The ambitious project will see the creation of a Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) in London, based in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and nearby Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.

The Smart Mobility Living Lab: London will provide a real-world urban test bed in a complex public environment, capable of demonstrating and evaluating the use, performance and benefits of CAV technology and mobility services in an accessible and globally recognisable context.

The Living Lab will be designed to operate as an open innovation environment where innovators in the automotive sector, transport service and technology providers, SMEs, local and central government and research bodies, can come together to exchange ideas and develop technical and business solutions for the future development of smart mobility solutions.

Paul Zanelli, Director, Engineering & Technology at TRL, explained: “Users of the SMLL will be able to collaboratively or independently test their ideas, technology and services in a real-world environment. This exciting project will see us working closely with industry to develop the evidence case for bringing new products and services to market, and with local and national governments to address the challenges and opportunities of future mobility. This will ensure we gain the benefits and minimise the pain of change.

“At the heart of the Living Lab will be continuous engagement with the public, to help facilitate a greater understanding of the implications of autonomous technology and enable them to have their say during this huge transition in urban mobility.”

The initial round of funding is part of the £100m UK CAV test bed competitive fund and is the first investment by government and industry through Meridian to develop a coordinated national platform of CAV testing infrastructure.

The consortium comprises expertise from across the transport and technology sectors, including TRL, DG Cities, Cisco, Costain, Cubic, Loughborough University, Transport for London and the London Legacy Development Corporation. Delivery partners include Millbrook Proving Ground and the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre.

The SMLL will have access to a critical mass of entrepreneurial talent in all the relevant sectors, from science and engineering to digital, media, insurance and the financial markets.

Rob Wallis, CEO, TRL, commented: “For TRL and its consortium partners, the SMLL provides a unique facility to respond to the rapidly evolving and challenging developments in new mobility solutions.

“This UK Government funding, complemented by industry investment, establishes an integrated eco-system of real-world CAV testing capability, positioning the UK as a leader in CAV technologies and mobility services worldwide.

“TRL, supported by its partners, is delighted to be leading the SMLL, which will attract global investment, create UK jobs and strengthen the UK economy, while delivering a range of societal benefits for everyone.”

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark added: “Combining ambitious new technologies and innovative business models to address social and economic challenges lies at the heart of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy."

"Accelerating connected and autonomous vehicle technology development is central to achieving this ambition and will help to ensure the UK is one of the world’s go-to locations to develop this sector.

“These projects, backed by Government, form part of a globally unique cluster running from our automotive heartlands in the West Midlands, down through our innovation centres in Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes, through to London, Europe's only mega-city.”

Another aspect of the government’s investment in future mobility has seen £25m invested in roads in Coventry and Birmingham, which are set to become the UK testbed for developing the next generation of connected and autonomous (CAV) vehicles.

The programme of investment being led by WMG at the University of Warwick, and undertaken by a consortium of research and industry partners, will make UK roads ready for CAVs by developing wireless networks, analysing how vehicles behave in real urban environments and involving the public in their evaluations.

The UK Central CAV Testbed will be based on 50 miles of urban roads in Coventry and Birmingham, creating a connected infrastructure and eco-system, with the control room for the testbed located within the National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC).

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