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May 22, 2020

Midlands Future Mobility starts AV trial route

Work has started on the 300km UK Midlands Future Mobility test environment, spanning from Coventry to Birmingham, which will see autonomous vehicles trialled on urban, rural, suburban and highway roads.

By bcusack

Work has started on the 300km UK Midlands Future Mobility test environment, spanning from Coventry to Birmingham, which will see autonomous vehicles trialled on urban, rural, suburban and highway roads.

The project is run by a consortium of companies including WMG, MIRA, AVL, Transport for West Midlands, Costain, Amey, Wireless Infrastructure Group, Coventry University and Highways England.

  • More than 300km of West Midland’s roads are set to trial connected and autonomous vehicles
  • Work has started on phase one of the Midlands Future Mobility route, which will extend from Coventry to Birmingham through urban roads, inter-urban and, suburban roads taking in key interchanges such as Birmingham International Airport and the new HS2 Hub in the City
  • The route will be extended later in 2020 to 350km; to include rural and highway roads in the region

The autonomous vehicle industry is estimated to be worth up to GBP62bn (US$76bn) to the UK economy by 2030.

Autonomous vehicles will be trialled along the Midlands Future Mobility route. The route has been developed by TfWM in collaboration with Coventry City Council, Birmingham City Council and Solihull Council and provides more than 300km of inner city, suburban and rural roads from Coventry to Birmingham, on which to fully assess vehicle performance in a wide range of real world locations and situations.

The first types of vehicle to be trialled along the route will be connected. The vehicles on the Midlands Future Mobility route will not be driving themselves during the early stages of research; initially they will have a driver and occasionally a second person monitoring how the vehicles are working.

The route includes infrastructure such as smart CCTV, weather stations, communications units, and GPS.

In the future, autonomous vehicles will be trialled on the route. These autonomous vehicles will appear gradually as more and more advanced driver assistance systems are tested, such as lane centering and auto-speed limiting technology.

The route itself causes no disruption to drivers or the homes along it, as it uses existing road infrastructure 95% of the time. Phase one of the route includes the University of Warwick, Coventry ring road, roads in Meriden, Solihull and central Birmingham around the Jewellery Quarter.

Later this year the route will be extended to include rural and highway roads and span up to 350km.

Project consortium member Costain and contractor, Siemens Mobility have begun work on the route, which will officially open for trials later this year. Both firms are practicing social distancing in the construction of technical features such as CCTV networks along the route.

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