Connected cars boosted by new London lab
Connected cars boosted by new London lab

Connected cars boosted by new London lab

The UK government has launched the Smart Mobility Living Lab in Greenwich.

The big news about the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected cars might be all about ditching the drivers, but in fact vehicle automation goes a lot deeper. The UK government recognises this and has launched the Smart Mobility Living Lab in the London Borough of Greenwich to provide a real-life environment where connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), services and processes can be safely developed, evaluated and integrated within the local community.

The Smart Mobility Living Lab will be run by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), and will allow vehicle manufacturers, OEMs and tech developers to work on research and development, concept testing and validation, launching new technology or services, and understanding how new technology is perceived in a real-world environment.

TRL has a current portfolio of CAV projects in excess of £25m and current CAV partners include Innovate UK, EPSRC, Bosch, Jaguar Land Rover, Royal Borough of Greenwich, UMTRI, Telefonica, Shell, CEDR, RSA, Direct Line Group, Westfield, Heathrow and Oxbotica.

TRL has identified three clear challenges facing the CAV market:

  • the choice and variety of technologies available to manufacturers
  • the rate at which the capacity and speed of those technologies are developing
  • the automotive industry’s ability to adapt quickly enough to capitalise on the opportunities this presents

By bringing together industry, academia and the public sector, the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab will help organisations address these challenges.

Connected cars: Real-world testing

There are two aspects to the Smart Mobility Living Lab. Onsite facilities are located at the Digital Greenwich Innovation Centre within the Mitre building, an instantly recognisable building set in the heart of the Greenwich Peninsula. Meanwhile offsite faclities are provided by TRL at its R&D headquarters in Crowthorne, Berkshire. The physical environment of the London Borough of Greenwich is characterised by multiple transport modes and so provides the ideal location for testing connected and autonomous vehicles in a range of different environments.

Neil Sharpe, director of engineering and technology at TRL, told Internet of Business: “The exact location for testing in Greenwich will depend on the client’s requirements and what they’re looking to achieve. If it’s to understand how these vehicles interact with pedestrians, this will involve dense environments with specific pedestrian areas. If it’s to understand how the technologies operate in normal driving conditions, it could be testing on the roads in Greenwich among moving traffic, like we’re doing with MOVE-UK.”

He continued on the future of connected cars and autonomous vehicles: “There’s still a lot of research to be done before we see fully autonomous vehicles on London roads. But what we can expect to see is a gradual increase in road vehicles with greater and greater levels of driver assistance until we reach a point where the majority of the driving task is undertaken by automation systems.”