Self-Driving Cars: Jaguar Land Rover Create ‘Smart City Hub’ To Advance Technology

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Just when we thought self-driving cars were decades and decades away from becoming a reality, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced it’s creating a testbed to advance the development of autonomous vehicles.

The ‘smart city hub’, known as the Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI), will cover 12km (7.45 miles) of roads and 450km (280 miles) of connected highway. According to a press release by the British manufacturer, the facility will provide research opportunities for autonomous, connected, electrified and shared cars.

Using autonomous driving technology provided by self-driving taxi service specialist company Waymo, JLR has collaborated with the firm to produce a driverless concept model of the brand’s flagship I-Pace electric car (pictured below).

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20,000 of these Waymo self-driving I-Pace cars were expected to be rolled out into the company’s ride-hailing fleet this year. However, with safety concerns over these car-sharing services due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s unlikely that this will come to fruition just yet.

What is FMCI?

  • A facility that tests the usability of autonomous vehicles by replicating real-world scenarios through use of pedestrians, cyclists and cars.
  • Key features of the smart city hub include autonomous parking and charging, 50 connected highways, smart and connected junctions, plus an air traffic corridor for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
  • Included within the facility are sensors, high-accuracy location systems, data management and a control centre that together monitor the performance of JLR/Weymo’s prototype vehicles.
  • Part of JLR’s Destination Zero campaign, the mission of which is to shape future transport through mobility services with zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion core focuses.

See below an animated impression of what the facility will look like for an idea of how driverless cars are going to be tested and made future-proof.

“The smart city zone provides a first-class facility for global companies to work together and develop world-leading technology, from autonomous vehicles to connected infrastructure. The testbed provides an opportunity to test in the real world and help answer some of the questions posed by the future of mobility in a collaborative and efficient way.”

Russel Vickers, CEO of FMCI

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More than just an Autonomous Connected Electric Shared Vehicles (ACEVs) testing ground

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While the FMCI is primarily for testing of the driverless Jag, there are a plethora of global tech companies in line to use it as a way of enhancing their innovations.

Here are some of the other tech-savvy businesses that will be making use of its grounds, plus what products they offer.

  • Cisco – technology conglomerate that develops, manufactures and sells networking hardware, software and telecommunications equipment, among other high-tech services and products.
  • Seagate – American data storage company providing products (e.g. external drives and data storage systems) and solutions for industries (e.g. fitting data-capturing cartridges inside autonomous vehicles).
  • Valeo – French global automotive supplier supplying products to manufacturers and the aftermarket (e.g. cabin air filters, smart sensors for advanced safety systems/autonomous driving and electric powertrains etc.)

Self-driving cars might not be available to get your hands on just yet, but some of the most advanced vehicle tech in the form of electric cars are. Want to see what EVs you can get with your budget?

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