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.”
- 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.