West Midlands Combined Authority: Work begins on autonomous vehicle trial route

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

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

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 over 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.

Process

The first types of vehicle to be trialled along the route will be “connected” vehicles. Connected vehicles can ‘talk’ to each other and warn of traffic, crashes and other hazards that other connected vehicles may have seen or been heading towards.

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 plan for the future would see autonomous vehicles on the route, however, they will be monitored heavily by operators.  With the improvement of technology in ‘driving assistance’, will help to see the increase of autonomous vehicles on the road.

The initial route would start at the University of Warwick, through the Coventry Ring Road and Central Birmingham and the Jewellery Quarter. Later this year will see the expanding of the route to pass through more rural routes and on the highway roads.

For more information on this project, click here.