Spirent opens new research labs to explore autonomous car tech
Spirent opens new research labs to explore autonomous car tech

Spirent opens new research labs to explore autonomous car tech

Spirent Communications is to open new research laboratories to explore and develop navigation technologies of the future.

Hardware, network and security testing company Spirent Communications has announced the opening of new research laboratories in Paignton, Devon, where sensors will be evaluated for their use in autonomous vehicles and new positioning technologies that use multiple signals such as Wi-Fi, LIDAR and RADAR, in addition to GNSS (global navigation satellite systems).  

The laboratories were officially opened by Professor David Southwood, chair of the steering committee at the UK Space Agency. “Seeing a company like Spirent working in space navigation, very much part of our future world, expanding its UK facilities is very exciting as the UK Space Agency works with industry to capture 10 percent of the global space market by 2030,” he said.

Read more: Cranfield University teams up with Spirent on connected car tech

The shape of things to come

Spirent, which is headquartered in Crawley, West Sussex, is apparently planning to increase all of its laboratories at its Paignton facility by over 50 percent in the next few years.

“Very few people realize that many of the high-tech devices we use every day have been tested by systems from Spirent in Paignton” said Martin Foulger, general manager of Spirent’s Positioning business unit.

“Our systems are widely used to test smartphones, infotainment systems in cars, fitness bands, drones, and many more devices, in addition to high-end applications such as aircraft and space vehicles. This expansion of our research facilities enables us to lead the development of test solutions for next-generation systems and maintain our global leadership position.”

The company claims that these new labs will underpin “next-generation” research activities and  also allow it to test systems to make GPS and other GNSS receivers more resilient to interference. This is a growing problem, according to Spirent, as increasing numbers of positioning, navigation and timing features are embedded in a wide range applications.

Read more: AEye unveils iDAR advanced perception and planning for driverless cars

Recruitment drive

The new labs also look set to bring new employment to an area of the country where it’s needed. “Over time, the additional laboratory space will enable Spirent to recruit more staff and increase its contribution to the local community,” said Caroline Lee, human resources director for Spirent. 

“The company is already very active in encouraging students to pursue STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – so the expanded facilities will help us to offer more opportunities in these areas,” she added.

In September 2017, the company teamed up with researchers at Cranfield University with a view to exploring ways to improve positioning and timing technologies for unmanned vehicles such as autonomous aircraft or connected cars.

Read more: UK government gives autonomous lorries the green light