Man operating engineering machinery.

First-of-its-kind facility accelerates autonomous car testing

Coventry University has played a key role in the development of a first-of-its-kind testing facility for connected and automated vehicles (CAVs).

The emergence of CAV technology is set to generate unprecedented levels of disruption and change within the automotive industry. The benefits of an autonomous vehicle include making transport more accessible, reducing vehicle accidents and having a positive effect on congestion and pollution. It is estimated that by 2030 the introduction of CAVs will add £51bn a year to the country’s economy, creating 320,000 new jobs in the UK, of which 25,000 will be in the automotive sector.

As part of a national strategy to establish the UK as a global leader with a centre of excellence for the development, testing and commercialisation of this technology, Coventry University and HORIBA MIRA - a world leader in automotive test systems - were awarded funding by the government’s Centre for Connected and Automated vehicles to develop a national testing facility for CAVs.

The result of this industry and university collaboration is ASSURED CAV, which is located on HORIBA MIRA’s Nuneaton site. ASSURED CAV is a world-class, connected and automated vehicle test ecosystem that allows for a wide range of driving scenarios to be investigated and tested in a safe and realistic environment. The facility helps to assess automated vehicles at the limit of their controllability and includes a purpose-built multi-storey car park and an ultrafast 5G mobile private network.

Coventry University’s role was to lead on the development of the virtual test environment, which is a ‘Digital Twin’ of the physical facility.

Created by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Automotive Research (CCAAR), part of the Centre for Future Transport and Cities, the Digital Twin offers a bespoke, customisable tool for virtual scenario generation and validation. It simulates different environments, such as roads, car parks and intersections, as well as different hazards, like pedestrians, animals and moving vehicles. This virtual ecosystem enables a wide range of real-world CAV driving scenarios to be created, including testing that cannot safely be conducted in public environments.

By allowing these autonomous driving scenarios to be created, in both the physical and virtual world, ASSURED CAV is accelerating development and testing to ensure CAVs are safe, comfortable, and secure for the future where autonomous vehicles feature as part of everyday life.

This research is ideal for automated vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and service providers to develop, verify, and certify safe vehicle operation whilst building consumer confidence in these new technologies.

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