ServCity, the UK’s newest autonomous mobility service research project, has launched this month to help cities solve how they can harness the latest autonomous vehicle technologies and successfully incorporate them into a complex urban environment.
ServCity is jointly funded by government and industry, the government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility fund is administered by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and delivered by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. Over 30 months, five partners – Nissan, the Connected Places Catapult, TRL, Hitachi and the University of Nottingham – will work together to develop a blueprint that directly tackles the barriers to deploying autonomous vehicles in the UK’s cities.
ServCity leverages the experience and expertise acquired though the HumanDrive project. Completed in February this year, this project tackled autonomous driving on country-side and motorway lanes, overcoming challenges such as roundabout and high speed country lanes with no marking, white lines, or kerbs. Completed with a 100% electric Nissan LEAF, it was finalised with Grand Drive, the UK longest and most complex autonomous drive from Cranfield to Sunderland. Data and learning gathered during HumanDrive represents a tremendous help in the completion of the new venture.
Through a combination of test simulation, end-user experience research and real-world trials, ServCity will inform how cities can exploit the potential of future mobility solutions and accelerate their deployment. Concentrating on the three key areas of technology, people and scalability, ServCity aims to ensure the user experience is as intuitive, inclusive and “engaging” as possible.
Business and Industry Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “If society is to enjoy the benefits of self-driving vehicles, we need to ensure the technology can safely master a complex and lively modern city, with all its obstacles.
This project, backed by Government funding, will not only help make autonomous vehicles more user friendly, but also give users confidence that they can respond quickly and safely and to all types of challenges they face on the roads.”
Bob Bateman (Project Manager) from Nissan explains: “We are extremely proud to be a part of the ServCity project and are excited to trial our 100% electric Nissan LEAF as test vehicles. Our Nissan Intelligent Mobility strategy strives to achieve a mobility future that is more electric, more autonomous and more connected and we look forward to working in collaboration with ServCity’s other partners to achieve this.”
Edward Mayo (Programme Manager) from the Connect Places Catapult said: “The Connected Places Catapult supports organisations in harnessing emerging technologies and developing new services. ServCity is a perfect example of how we can use this approach to deploy autonomous vehicles on a wide scale to achieve the aim of Intelligent Mobility and improve the movement of both people and goods.”
Lucien Linders (General Manager) from TRL adds: “As world leaders in creating the future of transport, TRL is committed to developing safe systems that are available to everyone. Through using the infrastructure and monitoring facilities at our Smart Mobility Living Lab in London, we are uniquely placed to analyse the performance and benefits of automated mobility services in a complex city environment. We are proud to be offering our expertise to this ground-breaking ServCity project.”
Nick Blake (Chief Innovation Strategist) from Hitachi explains: “The team at Hitachi’s European research and development is focused on tackling the complex technical challenges involved in autonomous driving in congested urban environments. Our role in the ServCity project will include developing the technology behind predicting – and safely responding to – other moving objects such as pedestrians, cyclists and cars, as well as delivering accurate and robust localisation solutions.”
Gary Burnett (Chair of Transport Human Factors) from the Human Factors Research Group at the University of Nottingham stated: “Our team brings significant expertise in conducting and analysing user studies to evaluate human-computer interactions. We are excited by our role as part of ServCity to generate theories, models and methods behind the user experience of the vehicle occupants. To this end, we will ensure that the design and development of the autonomous vehicle service is user-centred and truly meets consumer needs.”
Andrew Hart (Director) from SBD Automotive explains: “Robotaxis have the potential to fundamentally transform mobility for both consumers and the cities they operate in. The user experience lies at the heart of that transformation, as operators will need to carefully balance customer expectations with real-world technological constraints. SBD is proud to be a part of the ServCity project, bringing our decades of hands-on experience from working with car makers to help define and test different approaches to delivering a seamless Robotaxi experience.”