JLR to help build mini ‘smart city’ in Shannon to test self-driving cars

16 Nov 2020887 Views

Image: © Design Science Tech/Stock.adobe.com

Jaguar Land Rover will test autonomous car technology on a purpose-built, city-like track at a new Shannon facility.

Having once stated its goal to make Ireland a global centre for autonomous vehicle (AV) development, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has now announced plans for a new testing site that will be overseen by a group called ‘Future Mobility Campus Ireland’ (FMCI).

The site will be a collaborative testbed for AV technology and will include 12km of public road with built-in sensors, smart junctions, connected roads, autonomous parking and electric vehicle (EV) charging. This will allow for real-world testing of AVs by sharing the streets with cars, pedestrians and cyclists.

The site will also link to a 450km stretch of connected highway and a managed air traffic corridor for uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Shannon airport along the Shannon estuary.

Illustration of the Future Mobility Campus Ireland testbed showing various technology aspects set to come.

The Future Mobility Campus Ireland testbed site. Image: FMCI/JLR

JLR is partnering with global software, mobility and telecoms companies to create this smart city hub. It will be the lead partner of the project, working with Cisco, Seagate, Renovo, Red Hat, Valeo and Mergon.

“This partnership with FMCI provides us with a real-world facility to trial our emerging autonomous, connected, electrified and shared technology in a strategic location,” said John Cormican, JLR general manager for vehicle engineering in Shannon.

“Collaborating with top-tier software companies will allow us to develop our future systems more efficiently.”

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As part of the trials, the Jaguar I-Pace EV will be deployed for testing.

‘First-class facility for global companies’

Russell Vickers – who until recently was JLR Shannon’s manager for vehicle-as-a-service technology – is CEO of the FMCI group.

Speaking of the new hub, Vickers said: “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.”

Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com in 2018, Cormican said that the west coast of Ireland was proving to be one of the major AV tech development centres in the world.

“That cluster [of universities] between Cork, Limerick and Galway is producing many, many thousands of graduates, and that’s primarily the reason why JLR moved to Shannon because we can access that talent pool, and there are some great courses there that we are hiring from,” he said.

Colm Gorey is a senior journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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