UK’s Driverless Vehicle Test Lab Opens for Business

A dual virtual and real-world autonomous vehicle testing facility has opened for business in the UK.

The Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) has become the UK’s first connected and automated vehicle (CAV) testbed to fully open its doors to automakers and tier suppliers. Its mission is to accelerate the commercialization of market-ready future transport and mobility solutions.

It hopes to enable international technology and service providers to study an entire connected transport environment which is an essential step to make their products and services market-ready. This includes organizations from traditionally unrelated sectors such as energy, retail and communications.

Backers of the laboratory say trust in CAV technology is among its biggest challenge and that only a program of rigorous and transparent testing will provide a robust safety case. They add that the positioning of its real-world test site in the congested southeast of London provides a diverse, challenging and advanced connected urban environment for CAV and wider mobility solution development and testing.

Lucien Linders, general manager of SMLL, said: “The need for decarbonization, alongside initiatives including increasing shared mobility, and new ways of moving goods about, have brought the requirement for SMLL to the forefront of the transport agenda. Despite the impact of Covid-19, because the testbed is a live environment, it is genuinely ‘open for business’ and we are confident we can deliver vehicle and technology trials safely. Our Innovation Community events may have to remain virtual for a time but the collaboration has not stopped and the R&D projects we are involved in are all carrying on.”

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

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