Self-drive village opened at Millbrook proving ground

Future of Transport Minister opens Autonomous Village at Millbrook with 40 miles of secure test tracks to ensure autonomous vehicles pass muster before release

THE UK government has today announced new measures to ensure that all self-driving cars released in the UK are safe for all road users by opening the Autonomous Village at Millbrook Proving ground.

The site at Millbrook-Culham features 40 miles of secure roads and tracks designed to replicate the conditions of a small town or village, allowing autonomous vehicle manufacturers to test their machines in real-world conditions.

It’s planned that the site will be part of a network of self-driving vehicle test facilities across the country, co-ordinated by UK automated vehicle company Zenzic. The new test centre will allow developers to safely challenge systems and collect data. Helping them to fine-tune software, sensors, 5G telecommunications and cybersecurity systems – thanks to the site’s private 5G mobile network.

Speaking at the Cenex-Low Carbon Vehicle conference today, Future of Transport Minister George Freeman 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."

Director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, 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 are 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.”

The new safety assurance system will first focus on enabling the advanced trialling of self-driving vehicles and aims to eventually help assure the safety and security of these vehicles for their mainstream sale and use. Such advanced trials may include those without a human operator in the loop at all times, or the assessment of novel vehicle types such as pods and shuttles.

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