A new facility for testing self-driving cars has opened in Bedfordshire.
Developers of driver-less technology will be able to take advantage of the UK’s first so-called Autonomous Village at Millbrook Proving Ground, which has been used for vehicle testing since the 1960s.
The Millbrook-Culham urban test bed includes more than 40 miles of secure tracks, a new simulator and a private mobile network.
Having this great new facility will allow for testing to be completed easily to help manufacturers, start-up firms and academics fine-tune software, sensors, data collection and security systems for self-driving cars.
Businesses who are engaged in research and development could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit scheme; a government incentive rewarding innovating companies up to 33p for every £1 spent on qualifying activities.
Millbrook’s testing village is one of six sites across the UK coordinated by automated vehicle company Zenzic to receive a total of £51 million worth of Government funding.
Zenzic chief executive Daniel Ruiz described the facilities as “world class” and claimed they will enable ideas to be taken from conception to development “all within a three-hour drive”.
It is vital that theses developments are being put through vigorous testing to ensure the safety of road users as the technology must have the capability to produce cars that do not require human intervention to be driven satisfying our needs.
A few years ago the concept of driver-less vehicles was a thought for the distant future, but with an acceleration in technological advancements, and more companies joining the race to innovate, we are now on the cusp of seeing automated vehicles play a part in our everyday lives.
The opening of the Bedfordshire site was marked by Future of Transport Minister George Freeman launching a new regime to ensure vehicles are designed to be safe and secure before their testing and deployment on UK roads.
He said: “Self-driving vehicles can offer significant rewards for the UK’s economy, road safety and accessibility. We are determined to lead in the testing and development of safe autonomous transport.
“This is new terrain, and with our national expertise the UK is well-placed to blaze the trail globally by developing a global benchmark for assuring the safety and security of this exciting technology.”
Road safety charity Brake’s director of campaigns Joshua Harris said: “Connected and autonomous vehicles have enormous potential to eliminate driver error and help put an end to the daily tragedy of deaths and serious injuries on our roads.
“The technology and its potential is hugely exciting but it’s critical that these vehicles are robustly tested for safety before allowing them on our roads.
“We support the leading role being played by UK Government on this important agenda for safe mobility and the safety assurance regime will undoubtedly be fundamental to its future success.”
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