Upcoming events and general update

The last few weeks have been extremely busy, having run two networking meet-ups in London and Brussels, a number of other industry events around the UK (including LCV 2016) as well as the fantastic AutoSens vehicle perception conference at AutoWorld in Belgium.

I wanted to write a quick note to thank everyone that attended both events, numbers of which were around 25 in London and 35 in Brussels, and also confirm that more are planned, in Europe and elsewhere!

So as a rough guide to locations, I’ll start with confirming that we’ll be running free networking / meet-up events outside the UK in the following places in 2017.

  • February – Provence, France (venue tbc)
  • May – Detroit, MI, USA (co-hosted with AutoSens US – venue tbc)
  • July – nr Vienna, Austria (Zentrum Teesdorf)
  • September – Belgium (co-hosted with AutoSens Europe – venue tbc)

I’ll follow up that that we really want to work alongside people already running networking meet-ups in those cities or countries and will happily host and help promote those meet-ups, as well as support local education, research or related activities.

As for the UK, that’s certainly the easiest location for us to run these events, and we’ve had some useful feedback which has led us to consider having a touring meet-up event.  Obviously this is slightly trickier, but it makes sense for those who need to travel and might be based more than an hour or two from the meet-up.  London is great for the South East, so we’ll continue to run meetings there every 2 months, meanwhile we will also look for venues in heavily populated and easily-reached locations where we feel we can find friendly hosts working in the industry – cities in the Midlands, Oxford and Cambridge, Manchester, Newcastle and others.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Whenever we have a significant update, we’ll post an email out, so if you haven’t already, join the mailing list and you’ll be among the first to know!

Registration opens for Europe’s first open driverless car test event

As the launch event in the Self Driving Track Days series of driverless technology test track series, aimed at those working on autonomous vehicles and driverless technologies, we’re providing two full days of access to the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground on 15th and 16th November 2016.

The event will play host to car manufacturers, university researchers, and organisations that have already developed driverless vehicle technology, and provide two days of test track time for data gathering, testing, systems diagnostics and exploration, as well as an opportunity to discuss business, transport, autonomous vehicles and technology with fellow professionals and attending media.

We’re inviting a number of car and technology suppliers from around the world (some of whom have already confirmed they will be shipping autonomous vehicles over) but as a UK company ourselves, we’re also keen to support the demonstration and visibility of as much UK research and technology as possible.

This might be include fully driverless vehicles (personal transport pods, cars or small buses) or robotically controlled drones used for delivery, or development platforms for sensor systems, human-machine interface research, or articificial intelligence-controlled motorised systems.

A number of international media outlets have confirmed they’ll be attending already.

We are prioritising free entry to organisations with working driverless vehicles (to maximise media coverage) but if, for example, you have a development platform or prototype on which other technologies could be combined, then please get in touch with me directly by email – [email protected]

We are working closely with leading autonomy components supplier AutonomouStuff to create “driverless perception kits” – for organisations, researchers and universities to have more affordable access to the hardware needed to develop driverless vehicles.  The kit concept and contents will also be launched at this event.

Regrettably we are not able to accommodate spectators, however this will be a great opportunity to test your technologies and gain exposure to colleagues around the industry, share knowledge and network, as well as have opportunities for international media coverage.

Register online and find out more about the event at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/self-driving-track-days-bruntingthorpe-tickets-26755644854

Please note the entry fees are refundable deposits, per vehicle.

Lancement de Self Driving Track Days

Le premier évènement de test pour le développement des véhicules autonomes sur le continent européen se tiendra en France en 2017, alors que les tout nouveaux Self Driving Track Days annoncent une série d’évènements dans toute l’Europe afin d’accélérer les progrès de la technologie automobile de pilotage automatique.

Destinés aux équipes qui travaillent sur des technologies pour véhicules autonomes et des systèmes d’aide à la conduite automobile (ADAS), ces évènements privés de tests sur piste auront lieu tous les trois mois. Ils offriront des sites sécurisés pour la recherche et le développement sur un certain nombre de circuits en divers lieux d’Europe, à commencer par le Royaume-Uni en novembre, avant un évènement phare en Autriche en juillet 2017.

« La technologie des véhicules sans conducteur est une jeune discipline qui puise son expertise dans divers domaines du génie mécanique, électrique et logiciel. Nous avons la volonté de combler l’écart entre la formation et ce qui manque encore au vivier de talents pour l’industrie. Ces évènements réuniront les personnes concernées afin qu’elles développent leurs compétences et se préparent à la prochaine étape cruciale pour leurs produits. »

Le cofondateur, Alex Lawrence-Berkeley, s’est empressé de souligner que les évènements étaient axés sur le développement des compétences et de l’expérience des ingénieurs : « Ces journées sur pistes sont destinées aux innovateurs, aux inventeurs et aux chercheurs. Les équipes travaillant au niveau commercial, universitaire et amateur peuvent découvrir la technologie des véhicules autonomes dans un environnement sûr, accessible et collaboratif – et bénéficier d’une formation spécialisée que seuls les professionnels avertis du secteur peuvent prodiguer. »

« Nous espérons améliorer ces industries en collaborant étroitement avec les lieux, les associations professionnelles et les organisations commerciales afin de nous assurer qu’ils bénéficient également de cette nouvelle activité, en développant des protocoles de sécurité et en diffusant ces nouvelles compétences à travers ces secteurs. Nous nous réjouissons de travailler à l’avenir avec les nombreuses compétitions de génie automobile commerciales et universitaires qui développent des séries autonomes, dont Formula Student. »

« L’héritage français dans le domaine du génie automobile et des sports motorisés est admirable. C’est la patrie de Renault, du Mans, de la FIA, ainsi que d’un certain nombre de sociétés de technologie automobile qui auront une énorme influence sur l’avenir des transports. Et La Provence est idéale comme lieu de résidence hivernal, suffisamment chaude en février pour pouvoir travailler confortablement à l’extérieur, et parfaitement située pour accueillir les équipes de France, d’Espagne, d’Italie et d’ailleurs. »

Les sociétés automobiles, les étudiants ou les startups peuvent également former des équipes multipartenaires lors de rencontres de réseau gratuites organisées en septembre au Google Campus de Londres et à l’AutoWorld de Bruxelles (au Google Campus, de midi à 14 h, le 16 septembre 2016, inscription gratuite sur http://bit.ly/sdtd-meetup-1 et à l’AutoWorld, de midi à 14 h, le 20 septembre 2016, inscription gratuite sur http://bit.ly/sdtd-meetup-2 [organisée au même endroit que la conférence et exposition AutoSens vehicle perception]).

Lieux

  • Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, Leicestershire, UK. : 15-16 novembre 2016 – Comprend une autoroute en ligne droite à voies multiples.

  • Driving Center Castellet, Provence, France : 21-22 février 2017 – Circuit de course avec des espaces de travail distincts, près du célèbre circuit de grand prix Paul Ricard.

  • Daytona, Surrey, UK : 24-25 mai 2017 – Circuits d’essais asphaltés.

  • Zentrum Teesdorf, Autriche : 28-29 juillet 2017 – Évènement phare avec quatre circuits, comprenant un centre de formation routière, un circuit d’essai, des zones tout-terrain, ainsi que de nombreux ateliers de formation en tête-à-tête, des opportunités de réseautage, et plus encore.

Site Web : www.selfdrivingtrackdays.com Twitter : @SD_TrackDays

World’s largest autonomous vehicle technology supplier confirms as partner

Self Driving Track Days confirms AutonomouStuff, World’s largest autonomous vehicle technology supplier, as first commercial partner

ASTUFF logo darkThree months ahead of Europe’s first open self-driving car test track event and organisers Self Driving Track Days have today announced that AutonomouStuff, the world’s leading supplier of components and services that enable autonomy, has joined as the series’ first commercial partner.

We are delighted to confirm AutonomouStuff as our Exclusive Component and Software Vendor at this very early stage of building Self Driving Track Days, Europe’s first open testing events for autonomous vehicles and self-driving technology.

Alex Lawrence-Berkeley, Co-Founder of Self Driving Track Days was keen to complement the project’s first commercial partner. “It sets an exciting precedent that the biggest, best-known and well-respected supplier in the world has agreed to work with us on this project, and marks the first in what I hope will become many fruitful collaborations.”

Bobby Hambrick, CEO of AutonomouStuff, explained his reasons for lending his support to the initiative.  “The Self Driving Track Days series is sure to pull together some of the greatest minds in the industry to collaborate, test and learn from each other, while publicly showing the world where this industry is headed.  I believe that this series will change how the world perceives the future of transportation. We are very proud to be a major contributor to its success.

The partnership will begin immediately and last until August 2017, after the last of four track events scheduled, which will be run in the UK, France and Austria.

Alex Lawrence-Berkeley was keen to highlight the strength of the relationship even at this early stage.  “We want to work closely with partners to ensure quality for participants, and right from the outset of even chatting informally about Self Driving Track Days, even before we’d decided to run with the idea, Bobby Hambrick made it clear that he wanted to support what we were doing and was willing to go the extra mile to help.  When we took a step back and asked ourselves ‘OK, that’s great, but what are their values?’ then understood more about what makes them tick, it was like finding our twin.”

When you have someone like Bobby Hambrick, with that level of experience and passion telling you ‘go for it’ then you would be foolish to ignore that!”

What’s become clear to us is that AutonomouStuff isn’t ‘just’ an online retailer, they’re a group of talented people, including many passionate engineers, and are genuinely excited to work with their customers to identify not only the most appropriate products, but also the best ways of combining those products to solve problems their customers are tackling, and also that their experience can and is regularly applied to new problems and new environments.

For all your autonomy technology and components, visit www.autonomoustuff.com Twitter: @AutonomouStuff

Find out more, register for updates and discover partnership opportunities with Self Driving Track Days at www.selfdrivingtrackdays.com and follow us on Twitter: @SD_TrackDays

 

A short note on how we’re funded

As a courtesy note to journalists and any readers, I’d like to clarify how we’re funded.

It became clear shortly after we launched, earlier this month, that a couple of the stories covering our project included incorrect information.

One of these suggested that this project is funded by Innovate UK, and another (which was replicated numerous times) stated that I was also co-founder of Innovate UK – neither of which is the case. Self Driving Track Days is an independent business unit of Sense Media Ltd and has received no external funding, in fact we expect to continue to be a self-funding business unit for the foreseeable future.

We were accorded some in-kind assistance by the lovely press team at Transport Systems Catapult, which is funded by, and completely independent of Innovate UK – which is the national innovation agency – that’s all.  Of course, both organisations are brilliant, doing important work, so I’m certainly not throwing stones!  So, there is a very tenuous link but certainly not one which implies receipt of funding (more’s the pity) or a lofty role for me at either organisation! 🙂

If you’re researching a story, please feel free to get in touch and I would be happy to personally help you with any information you need.

Alex

World’s largest auto engineering competition goes driverless

The University robotics departments of Oxford, MIT, Stanford, among others, are some of the best known innovators in the autonomous vehicle sector, having made their mark on influential projects such as the DARPA grand challenge.  It comes as no surprise that other universities, and student-orientated competitions, are keen to make their mark as well.

Step forward, Formula Student.  An engineering challenge in Europe which hosts, in its most recent iteration, more than 130 universities from around the world, competing in a variety of different static and dynamic tests.  This competition has generated thousands of new and highly experienced engineers going from university into competitive motorsport and other automotive disciplines.

Organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, working in partnership as the European arm of the established Formula SAE in North America, the UK-based competition finale is held at Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix and jewel in the crown of the globally influential British motorsport industry.  The week-long event, with an atmosphere and scale approaching a small festival, is attended by teams and sponsors from around the world and has been running and growing year-on-year since 1998.

Universities from across the globe (not just restricted to Europe) are challenged to design and build a single-seat racing car in order to demonstrate their understanding and test the performance of the vehicle.  The programme is successful, and now so large that many countries have their own organising committees, arranging complementary competitions.  “Where is all this going?” I hear you ask.

Well, apart from the incredible speed at which teams are able to develop and create solutions to problems which leave many production cars behind in their tyre-tracks (some cars have to be de-tuned in order to fit within the power constraints of the competition and many go from concept to potential winner in less than 12 months), one of these national chapters, Germany, last year ran a design competition for Driverless vehicle concepts – the Formula Student Driverless Concept Award.

More than thirty universities from 12 countries entered abstract ideas, with 16 of these invited to submit full designs.

This month (last weekend, in fact) Formula Student Germany confirmed this year’s design contest, won by Zwickau University in Germany, would be succeeded by a built competition culminating in a finale and judged contest in 2017.  It’s worth pointing out that the first seven of the finalists ranked in the top ten – were from Germany.

This throws down the gauntlet to the industry – it means that innovation will speed up, that new solutions to old problems will have dozens, if not hundreds of fresh, eager and exciting new minds staring at them.  It also means that the numbers seen at the Thunderhill Raceway, at the world’s first open testing event for autonomous vehicles, are inevitably going to increase.

That’s another reason why we have launched Self Driving Track Days – regular events taking place in around Europe with training workshops and a social, collaborative spirit that will bring like-minded people together and provide a cost-effective testing opportunity for innovators, irrespective of their location or budget.

For those who would like to get involved, but perhaps don’t have a ready-assembled team, we are inviting you to join our Self Driving Track Day meet-up events. Specifically, for networking, perhaps you are unsure how or who to partner with to get your technology tested on a vehicle, away from the public, maybe you want to discretely trial or partner with a team with a complimentary skillset. Either way, this is the place to do it.

We are holding a meet-up (free to register and attend) on Tuesday September 20th – between 12 noon and 2pm – that’s sandwiched between the IEEE Working Group meeting and the Image Sensor Workshop at AutoSens, before the main part of the conference begins on Wednesday 21st. You don’t need to spend the whole two hours there, but we can guarantee it will be an interesting place to spend your lunch break.

We’re also holding a meet-up at Google Campus in London on Friday 16th, which is filling up fast with interested parties, innovators, even OEMs, all keen to meet like-minded people.

The networking events and track days are open to everyone, but I started this by writing about Formula Student for a reason – it’s exciting. Throw problems at these keen minds, and they’ll solve them for you, work with you, evolve your products – give them your time, your technology, your support, your respect, and they will repay that in dividends, giving our industry a robust, experienced, passionate and exciting new pool of talent.  Formula Student and Self Driving Track Days are key ways for industry to connect with this next generation of engineers – get involved now and make sure your company is a part of the journey this talent is embarking upon.

Launching Self Driving Track Days – Press Release

Europe’s first open testing event for autonomous vehicle development will take place in the UK later this year, as start-up Self Driving Track Days announces a series of events across Europe to help accelerate development of self-driving car technology.

Aimed at teams developing autonomous vehicle technologies and ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), these private test-track events, which will be held every 3 months, will provide a safe and secure venues to conduct research and development on a number of tracks in a variety of locations around Europe, starting in the UK at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in November.

Driverless vehicle technology is a young discipline which pools expertise from different areas of mechanical, electrical and software engineering skills.  We’re keen to close the skills gaps between education and what industry is telling us is missing in the talent pool. These events will bring people together and help to develop their skills, and experience to be ready for the critical next step for their products.

Co-Founder Alex Lawrence-Berkeley was keen to emphasise that the events were focused on increasing engineer skills and experience: “These track days are for innovators, inventors and researchers. Teams at commercial, academic or hobbyist level can explore autonomous vehicle technology in a safe, affordable and collaborative environment – and have access to specialist training that only experienced industry professionals can deliver”.

The UK has a fine heritage in automotive engineering and motorsport, and we intend to complement those industries by working closely with venues, industry associations and trade bodies to ensure they can also benefit from this new activity in developing safety protocols and spread these new skills around those industries as well.  Likewise we will be looking forward to working with the many established commercial and academic automotive engineering competitions which are developing driverless series in the future.

Paul Atkin, Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground’s Business Development Manager, and host of the first event, said that the test track, in Leicestershire, had a long history of hosting innovative automotive engineers. “As the UK’s largest privately owned test track, situated in the centre of England’s industrial heart, we are delighted and proud to host what will be Europe’s first event of its kind for autonomous vehicles. We look forward to welcoming participating teams to Self Driving Track Days later this year.

Automotive companies, students or startups can also form multi-partner teams at free networking meet-up events.

The Transport Systems Catapult, famous for their LUTZ Pathfinder driverless vehicle project in Milton Keynes, have endorsed the initiative. Andrew Everett, Chief Strategy Officer, Transport Systems Catapult:

The Transport Systems Catapult welcomes the ‘Self Driving Track Days’ initiative as a great opportunity to develop the UK skills base in this rapidly advancing area. Our research suggests the global market for Autonomous Vehicles and connected vehicle products will be worth over £52bn by 2025. Meanwhile the Connected and Autonomous Vehicle market has one of the highest predicted global growth rates amongst emerging transport technologies. The UK already has strong expertise in these areas, but skills gaps are already being highlighted in our research that need to be filled as the technology matures.”

“Nurturing talent and encouraging new businesses and innovators to enter this space, through initiatives like Self Driving Track Days, will be vital if we are to capture a significant share of the market.

Venues

  • Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, Leicestershire, UK: 15-16 Nov 2016 – Includes 1.6 km multi-lane motorway straight.
  • Driving Center Castellet, Provence, France: 21-22 Feb 2017 – Racing circuit with separate handling areas.
  • Daytona Karting, Surrey, UK: 24-25 April 2017 – Surfaced test circuits inside the M25 and training workshop
  • Zentrum Teesdorf, Austria: 28-29 July 2017 – Flagship event with three circuits, plus multiple face-to-face training workshops, networking and more.

Website: www.selfdrivingtrackdays.com Twitter: @SD_TrackDays

Launching Europe’s first autonomous vehicle testing events – open-to-all

Europe’s first open testing event for autonomous vehicle development will take place in the UK in November 2016.  This will be the first in a new series of events which will take place at test tracks and facilities all over Europe, continuing into 2017 and beyond.

Aimed at teams developing ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) and self-driving technologies, these track events will provide a safe and secure location for groups to conduct research and development on a number of tracks in a variety of locations, the first of their kind in Europe.

Co-Founder Alex Lawrence-Berkeley was keen to emphasise that the events were focused on research and development:

“These track days are aimed at innovators, inventors, researchers and teams – whether at commercial, academic or hobbyist level – to explore autonomous vehicle technology in a safe, affordable and collaborative environment.”

“We know that there are autonomous vehicle or self-driving car racing series and events coming up in Europe, particularly in the UK, and we intend to complement those competitive events by providing a variety of venues which teams can use to extend their knowledge and experience without necessarily thinking about the competitive aspect.”

“It’s a comparatively young engineering discipline which pools expertise from many different industries, including mechanical, electrical, software engineering, artificial intelligence and others.  We’re keen to help close all of those gaps and bring all of those people and experts together.”

The events, which will take place every 3 months, have confirmed two venues in the UK, as well as venues in France and Austria, and secured backing from a number of companies already supplying parts and services into the autonomous vehicle industry.

“It’s great to see the level of excitement we’ve already generated.  Even before launch, we had a handful of teams that have expressed interest, and we’re really pleased to be able to provide a range of different events and driving challenges to support existing and future participants”.

Find out when and where our self driving track day events will take place.