BMW Creates AV Test Track in Czechia

BMW has opened an autonomous driving and parking test track in Czechia in a bid to advance its ADAS technology.

As the first development location of its kind in central Europe, the Future Mobility Development Center (FMDC) in Sokolov involved a €300M ($M) investment by the automaker. The former mining region has been transformed into an innovation hub employing more than one hundred skilled workers.

BMW says the surrounding terrain offers the best real-world conditions for testing of highly and fully automated driving and parking to supplement the virtual simulation of driving situations. Through this combination of virtual simulation and real-world testing, it hopes to offer the highest safety requirements of its customers. The center adds to BMW’s existing group of test sites in Aschheim near Munich, Miramas in France and Arjeplog in Sweden.

In addition to the use of green electricity, the site is equipped with a water management system that systematically collects rainwater and uses it for track irrigation. The protection and promotion of the local biodiversity were also considered throughout the planning process: amphibian control systems were installed throughout the site to ensure the safe crossing of animals across the test track. Also, there are 2.2M cubic meters of soil previously excavated by nearby mining used to build the site. So, no additional land was sealed and an area that had lain fallow was recycled for technological development. Frank Weber, BMW board member for development, said: “The special thing: we can run our test modules one after the other without stopping. This makes our testing as realistic, reliable and customer-oriented as possible.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_  and Threads

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