An exciting new funding bid on an entirely different scale

Arduino-computer power, with basic computer vision and a sub £50 price

We talk a lot about the importance of understanding the technologies used in autonomous vehicles, and regularly highlight the opportunities that model cars present, such as demonstrators running on Elektrobit Robinos, Raspberry Pi powered Formula Pi robo-cars, or smaller models using the Arduino processor platform.

In fact, we are very vocal about their value as a training platform for the next generation of ADAS and autonomous vehicle engineers.

Where else can you develop your own driverless car, using the software and hardware tools available on any budget, and take the same developed algorithms and machine learning to apply with very little additional work between a toy on your desk and a car on the road?

Formula Pi autonomous cars – a valuable training platform <£200 per car.

And so, after much preparation, we are ready to announce a very special partnership that fulfills the UK government’s most pressing investment programme for the upcoming competition of testing infrastructure, facilitated by Innovate UK and KTN – the Knowledge Transfer Network.

We have a very important alternative view which we feel represents good value for money to the taxpayer, as well as a realistic approach which

On Tuesday of this week, I attended a special preview event, meeting with the head of innovation at Innovate UK, as well as members of the team from the government policy unit, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, and the team from the newly formed ‘CAV Hub’.

We recently interviewed Ran Zhao, creator of this Raspberry Pi powered car running computer vision for clear-path navigation and road sign reading capability.

A few days later, Business Secretary Greg Clark launched the first competition to access funding from the Government’s £100m investment programme supporting the creation of test facilities for connected and autonomous vehicles on 30 March 2017 at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Connected Conference in London.

The programme, which is being match funded by industry, to take the total spend up to £200m over 4 years, is being launched as a grant through a series of funding competitions. The first competition announced today will allow bids for an initial share of £55m of the test bed funding.

The Big Bid

The highly controlled road environment is privately owned and ideal for autonomous vehicles.

Working with our good friends at Babbacombe Model Village, whose enclosed development has developed into a comprehensive range of built infrastructure, we plan to put in a bid for approximately one twelfth of the competition category value, since the Village is 1/12th scale.

Construction work begins for a specialist testing facility for 1/12th scale cars

By doing this, we will deliver exceptional value for money to taxpayers, as well as provide world-class training and evaluation facilities for autonomous vehicles and the engineers that develop them.

The location has a variety of road infrastructure projects underway, connections with scale-model transport hubs, all-weather operation, street furniture and signage to DfT specification, and on-site support facilities that include design and build workshops, electricians on site, office space to let and a very positive public opinion of the facility, thanks to its long history as a family friendly tourist attraction.

Local residents are watching the plans with interest

In fact, we can think of no better venue to host exciting new businesses looking to scale-up.

After 5 decades of development, the facilities are world class.  All the roads and transport hub areas are privately owned, so they are easy to close for small scale experiments.  As with all test sites, the nature of the venue means that occasionally wild animals do venture on to the roads, so engineers are encouraged to be present near cars at all times.

Read the full press release.