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Posted 30/07/2018
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Competition funding positions Britain at the forefront of self-driving development

London, 30 July 2018: As winning consortium bids are announced for simulation and modelling in relation to the development of self-driving vehicles on UK roads, Meridian is excited to see how the allocation of the funding pot will drive innovation for autonomous vehicle technology.

Past competitions funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and supported by Meridian garnered a strong response and commitment to investment by industry. This competition for a further £12m of shared funding was focused on simulation and modelling. Submissions covered projects delivered by a range of businesses from autonomous-dedicated small start-ups, through to internationally based specialist tech companies and to globally acclaimed vehicle manufacturers.

Daniel Ruiz, CEO of Meridian, which was co-created by government and industry to focus on the key areas of testing and development of self-driving vehicles, said:

“The highly collaborative approach between domestic businesses, academia and government makes the UK a one-stop shop for developing autonomous vehicle technology; unlike any other country in the world. This new set of winning projects further underlines how the UK is at the forefront of the global drive to develop connected and autonomous vehicles and deploy them for the social and economic benefit of our country.”

UK hub for autonomous development

Uniquely, the UK offers businesses facilities from concept to development within a two-hour radius (from London up to the Midlands). The extensive ecosystem, which has a keen focus on safety, incorporates both virtual and real scenarios in the autonomous testing chain, comprising autonomous research companies, simulation experts, track testing grounds and highly skilled academia. Research in simulation and modelling technology is especially important in the CAV sector, as engineers are not restricted in having to rely on physical testing alone. Millions of scenarios and simulations can be run with only small tweaks to make a vehicle’s brain smarter and safer on the road.

Broad bidder background for accelerating CAV technology

The six successful bids are representative of a diverse range of consortia. One successful bidder is Latent Logic, a young UK start-up that specialises in the simulation of realistic actors using artificial intelligence (AI) within virtual environments. Latent Logic will lead a consortium of 11 to develop a testing certification tool that can be used to accelerate the development of CAVs.

The competition also attracted interest from international applicants, including aiPod, a US-based start-up. They will lead a consortium of five to develop edge case scenarios to virtually validate CAV decision-making processes and to qualify risk. On the involvement of aiPod, Chess Stetson, Head of Risk, said:

“We were attracted to the UK by its forward-leaning industrial policy that provides significant resources to spur the development of consortia such as dRISK which will solve major mobility problems. Among the numerous other benefits that make the UK an ideal place to develop new technologies are its world class universities and its track record in science and technology, including high-performance automotive.”

As one of the largest winners, Jaguar-Land Rover received funding for two projects alongside a consortium of smaller businesses, with projects focused on maximising safety.

The lasting legacy of this competition that has been led by CCAV is to secure more autonomous vehicle business for investment in the UK. The competition was unveiled in January, aiming to propel the UK into prime position as a leading force in autonomous vehicle development.

Several leads of the consortia elaborated on their wins:

HORIBA MIRA Ltd

“There is a transformation taking place in the automotive sector. This transformation is being driven by the trend towards ever-increasing levels of connectivity and automation to the point where the industry is now talking in terms of the car being your biggest consumer electronic purchase.

“This transformation is opening up huge commercial opportunities. It’s not, however, without major technical challenges in product development and the need to determine the efficacy of these systems using industry best practice test and validation processes. Simulation and modelling techniques and the creation of ‘digital twins’ will be critical in speeding up and reducing the cost of product development. HORIBA MIRA is delighted to receive support from Innovate UK, Meridian and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles for the co-funded projects, VeriCAV and COSMOS, to help develop these virtual techniques. Both of these projects will continue to grow HORIBA MIRA’s world-class CAV consultancy and test engineering services,” Chris Reeves Head of CAV Technologies, HORIBA MIRA Ltd.

Latent Logic

“This funding will significantly accelerate the development of our A.I.-based “driverless car driving test. Through Innovate UK’s support we are partnering with leading UK and international organisations working on autonomous car development, certification and insurance. This multi-year investment into the UK autonomous car ecosystem re-affirms our commitment to making the UK the best place to test an autonomous car,” Kirsty Lloyd-Jukes, CEO at Latent Logic.

aiPod:

“We’re thrilled that aiPod and the dRISK consortium have been selected by Innovate UK to build the technology to validate autonomous vehicles to drive safely on the roads of the UK and beyond,” said Chess Stetson, Head of Risk, aiPod.

“To build the city that safely drives itself, we start by building the technology to simulate and understand it. This funding will enable us to characterize the risk of the vast number of transportation edge cases and risk scenarios, use that comprehensive knowledge to validate AVs for safety in simulation, and provide that knowledge base to regulators in a usable form that will allow them to make good decisions.”

“We were attracted to the UK by its forward-leaning industrial policy that provides significant resources to spur the development of consortia such as dRISK which will solve major mobility problems. Among the numerous other benefits that make the UK an ideal place to develop new technologies are its world class universities and its track record in science and technology, including high-performance automotive. In addition, the chance to develop our technology in an iconic transportation city such as London gives us a singular advantage so we can make meaningful progress swiftly.”

Jaguar-Land Rover

“Over the past three years, Jaguar Land Rover has been very fortunate to have worked across multiple CCAV funded projects; successfully propelling the UK to the forefront of connected and autonomous vehicle research worldwide.

“Collaborating with academic and industrial partners has allowed us to significantly improve understanding in this complex technology area and create discussion about autonomous and connected technology. We are confident that these new projects will continue this trend, helping us to deliver the most sophisticated and advanced self-driving technology to our customers in the near future,” Chris Holmes, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research Senior Manager, Jaguar-Land Rover.