UK Government Announces Funding For a World-Leading Smart Mobility Living Lab in London

A consortium led by TRL, the global centre for innovation in transport and mobility, has been awarded £13.4m of the government’s £51m Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) test bed funding to create a world-leading, real-world test environment in London for the development of future mobility solutions.

The initial round of funding is part of the £100m UK CAV test bed competitive fund and is the first investment by government and industry through Meridian to develop a coordinated national platform of CAV testing infrastructure.

The consortium comprises world-leading expertise from across the transport and technology sectors, including TRL, DG Cities, Cisco, Costain, Cubic, Loughborough University, Transport for London and the London Legacy Development Corporation. Delivery partners include Millbrook Proving Ground and the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre.

The ambitious project will see the creation of a Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) in London, based in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and nearby Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. The Smart Mobility Living Lab: London will provide a real-world urban test bed in a complex public environment, capable of demonstrating and evaluating the use, performance and benefits of CAV technology and mobility services in an accessible and globally recognisable context.

Councillor Denise Hyland, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said: “I am delighted that the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has been chosen as the location for one of the UK test-beds for connected and autonomous vehicles, and will be home to the Smart Mobility Living Lab: London. This important initiative will further consolidate Greenwich, London and the UK’s pre-eminence in the development and application of connected and autonomous vehicle technology. It builds on our success in establishing the Royal Borough of Greenwich as a leader in smart city innovation and our work to identify the opportunities that technologies such as connected and autonomous vehicles can bring, how cities will need to adapt, and our determination to put city authorities at the heart of the innovation debate.”

The Living Lab will be designed to operate as an open innovation environment where innovators in the automotive sector, transport service and technology providers, SMEs, local and central government and research bodies, can come together to exchange ideas and develop technical and business solutions for the future development of smart mobility solutions.

Paul Zanelli, Director, Engineering & Technology at TRL, explained: “Users of the SMLL will be able to collaboratively or independently test their ideas, technology and services in a real-world environment. This exciting project will see us working closely with industry to develop the evidence case for bringing new products and services to market, and with local and national governments to address the challenges and opportunities of future mobility. This will ensure we gain the benefits and minimise the pain of change.

“At the heart of the Living Lab will be continuous engagement with the public, to help facilitate a greater understanding of the implications of autonomous technology and enable them to have their say during this huge transition in urban mobility.”

Located in Europe’s only mega-city, London, the SMLL will have access to a critical mass of entrepreneurial talent in all the relevant sectors, from science and engineering to digital, media, insurance and the financial markets.

Rob Wallis, CEO, TRL, commented: “For TRL and its consortium partners, the SMLL provides a unique facility to respond to the rapidly evolving and challenging developments in new mobility solutions.

“This UK Government funding, complemented by industry investment, establishes an integrated eco-system of real-world CAV testing capability, positioning the UK as a leader in CAV technologies and mobility services worldwide.

“TRL, supported by its partners, is delighted to be leading the SMLL, which will attract global investment, create UK jobs and strengthen the UK economy, while delivering a range of societal benefits for everyone.”

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark added:  “Combining ambitious new technologies and innovative business models to address social and economic challenges lies at the heart of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy. Accelerating connected and autonomous vehicle technology development is central to achieving this ambition and will help to ensure the UK is one of the world’s go-to locations to develop this sector.

“These projects, backed by Government, form part of a globally unique cluster running from our automotive heartlands in the West Midlands, down through our innovation centres in Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes, through to London, Europe’s only mega-city.”

The SMLL adds to TRL’s growing programme of innovation into future transport and mobility solutions, focused on (i) highly-automated, self-driving vehicles, (ii) intelligent, connected infrastructure and vehicles, (iii) low carbon technologies and electrification and (iv) shared mobility services. Today, TRL, together with its partners, has an active portfolio of autonomous, connected, electric and shared mobility projects totalling in excess of £70m. These include the recently awarded UK HGV platooning project, GATEway, MOVE_UK, Atlas, Driven, Streetwise, Merge Greenwich and DRAGON.

Michael Hurwitz, TfL’s Director of Transport Innovation, said: “It’s important that we support and learn from innovation that could improve transport across London. Autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to significantly change travel – that’s why we are working closely on this project to ensure the development of these types of vehicles is safe, environmentally-friendly and benefits the city, complementing our focus on walking, cycling and green public transport.”

Jennifer Daothong, Head of Strategy and Sustainability at the London Legacy Development Corporation, responsible for the development of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, said: “Working in partnership with London’s clean-tech industry, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is rapidly becoming a world-leading test bed for trialling new and innovative approaches to our future transport needs. We are delighted to be working with world-leading companies to provide the first of many opportunities for Londoners to experience this ground breaking technology for themselves.”