Smart mobility lab created in London Borough

The London Borough of Greenwich will be home to the TRL’s smart mobility laboratory for connected and automated vehicles.

The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has announced the launch of the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab @ Greenwich; a real-life environment where Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs), services and processes can be safely developed, evaluated and integrated within the local community.

Based in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, London and supported by UK government, the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab @ Greenwich helps organisations bring products to market faster by enabling them to be trialled and validated in a real-life environment. Vehicle manufacturers, OEMs and tech developers can use the ‘Living Lab’ to assist with research and development, concept testing and validation, launching new technology or services, and understanding how new technology is perceived in a real world environment.

TRL has identified three clear challenges facing the CAV market today; the choice and variety of technologies available to manufacturers, the rate at which the capacity and speed of those technologies are developing and the automotive industry’s ability to adapt quickly enough to capitalise on the opportunities this presents. The UK Smart Mobility Living Lab aims to help organisations address these challenges by providing an open innovation environment in which industry, academia and the public sector can collaborate to accelerate the development of safe, efficient and effective CAV systems.

As Europe’s only globally recognised megacity, London provides the ideal location to explore the interoperability of CAVs with other transport services; due to the permissive regulations, thriving automotive industry and excellent research base and innovation infrastructure.

As well as being one of the UK’s leading smart cities, Greenwich benefits from a diverse range of transport modes including roads, buses, underground, rail, Docklands Light Railway, river bus and the Emirates Airline cable car. This provides an ideal environment to test the interaction and interoperability of connected and autonomous vehicles in a variety of different environments.

Onsite facilities for the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab @ Greenwich can be found at the Digital Greenwich Innovation Centre within the Mitre building, an instantly recognisable building set in the heart of the Greenwich Peninsula, central London’s most exciting new business district. Offsite facilities are provided by TRL at its R&D headquarters in Berkshire.

Rob Wallis, CEO of TRL commented: “The launch of the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab is an important step in the path towards vehicle automation. Many organisations are testing autonomous systems in dedicated off-street facilities, but the success of these vehicles largely depends on how they integrate into real world living environments, alongside existing transport services. By providing a welcoming and real-life regulatory environment for testing, TRL can help accelerate the adoption of new technology and enable the UK to play a pivotal role in the development of this global market over the next five years.”

Transport Minister Andrew Jones added: “Driverless cars will improve road safety and bring huge benefits to the economy. We have backed projects in Greenwich with £9m of funding that are helping to turn it into a major centre for testing and demonstration. I am excited to see the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab progress, helping to keep the UK at the forefront of the motoring of the future.”

Roland Meister, Head of Transport at the UK’s innovation experts, Innovate UK, commented: “Innovate UK is delighted to see the establishment of the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab @ Greenwich. It’s a unique urban test bed, that’s already being used by two of our projects – GATEway and MOVE_UK – to help drive productivity and growth in the UK. Initiatives like this are needed in order to meet the challenges presented by the proliferation of connected technology and its rapid evolution. I’m especially excited to see foreign investment and high growth SMEs at the heart of it all.”

Councillor Sizwe James, Cabinet Member for Business, Employment and Skills, Royal Borough of Greenwich added: “I am delighted that TRL has chosen the Royal Borough of Greenwich as the location for the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab. It builds on the Council’s work on smart city innovation and complements other connected and autonomous vehicle projects we are working on with TRL, supported by Innovate UK. Greenwich has a proud tradition of scientific, maritime and industrial invention and discovery.  The UK Smart Mobility Living Lab builds on this tradition and enables us to work alongside world leading businesses to better understand how cities can help facilitate and benefit from the take-up of these technologies.”

TRL is at the forefront of smart mobility with a current portfolio of CAV projects in excess of £25m. This is underpinned by TRL’s established track record as an independent, impartial centre of excellence, delivering world class research in the UK and internationally, to both public and private sector organisations. Current CAV partners include Innovate UK, EPSRC, Bosch, Jaguar Land Rover, Royal Borough of Greenwich, UMTRI, Telefonica, Shell, CEDR, RSA, Direct Line Group, Westfield, Heathrow and Oxbotica.

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