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Midlands roads to be autonomous vehicle testbed

Date: 20 October 2017

Roads in Coventry and Birmingham are to become a testbed for the next generation of connected and autonomous (CAV) vehicles as part of a new £25 million investment programme led by WMG at the University of Warwick.

The new venture, undertaken by a consortium of research and industry partners, aims to help 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 new testbed will be based around 50 miles of urban roads in Coventry and Birmingham, while the control room will be located within the National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC) at Warwick University.

The development and deployment of CAVs is driven by the need to reduce traffic congestion and accidents on UK roads and has the potential to provide significant societal benefits, as well as business opportunities for the automotive, communications, infrastructure and transport sectors in the UK.

Business and energy secretary Greg Clark said: "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."

Professor Paul Jennings, an expert in CAV technology at WMG, is leading the project.

"I am thrilled to be working alongside our consortium partners on the UK Central CAV Testbed, which will form a key part of the new UK testing infrastructure," he said. "The Midlands has a proud heritage of pioneering vehicle development, and I am delighted to be part of the next era - bringing CAVs onto the road and allowing all of us to reap the benefits as soon as possible."