Self driving track days arrive

Europe’s first open testing event for autonomous vehicle development will take place in the UK later this year.

The move comes as start-up Self Driving Track Days has announced a series of events across Europe to help accelerate development of self-driving car technology.

Aimed at teams developing autonomous vehicle technologies and ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), the private test-track events, which will be held every three months, will provide safe and secure venues to conduct research and development on a number of tracks in a variety of locations around Europe, starting in the UK at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in November.

Self Driving Track Days co-founder, Alex Lawrence-Berkeley said, ‘Driverless vehicle technology is a young discipline which pools expertise from different areas of mechanical, electrical and software engineering skills. We’re keen to close the skills gaps between education and what industry is telling us is missing in the talent pool. These events will bring people together and help to develop their skills, and experience to be ready for the critical next step for their products.’

Alex is also keen to emphasise that the events are focused on increasing engineer skills and experience. ‘These track days are for innovators, inventors and researchers. Teams at commercial, academic or hobbyist level can explore autonomous vehicle technology in a safe, affordable and collaborative environment – and have access to specialist training that only experienced industry professionals can deliver,’ he said.

Alex continued, ‘The UK has a fine heritage in automotive engineering and motorsport, and we intend to complement those industries by working closely with venues, industry associations and trade bodies to ensure they can also benefit from this new activity in developing safety protocols and spread these new skills around those industries as well.  Likewise we will be looking forward to working with the many established commercial and academic automotive engineering competitions which are developing driverless series in the future.’

Automotive companies, students or start ups can also form multi-partner teams at free networking meet-up events being hosted at Google Campus London and AutoWorld Brussels, both taking place in September.

The Transport Systems Catapult, famous for its LUTZ Pathfinder driverless vehicle project in Milton Keynes, has endorsed the initiative. Andrew Everett, chief strategy officer, Transport Systems Catapult said, ‘The Transport Systems Catapult welcomes the ‘Self Driving Track Days’ initiative as a great opportunity to develop the UK skills base in this rapidly advancing area. Our research suggests the global market for Autonomous Vehicles and connected vehicle products will be worth over £52bn by 2025. Meanwhile the connected and autonomous vehicle market has one of the highest predicted global growth rates amongst emerging transport technologies.’

The events are scheduled to take place at the following:

  • Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, Leicestershire, UK: 15-16 Nov 2016 – Includes 1.6 km multi-lane motorway straight.
  • Driving Center Castellet, Provence, France: 21-22 Feb 2017 – Racing circuit with separate handling areas.
  • Longcross Test Track, Surrey, UK: 10-11 May 2017 – Surfaced and unsurfaced test circuits.
  • Zentrum Teesdorf, Austria: 28-29 July 2017 – Flagship event with four circuits, including a road-training centre, handling circuit, off-road area and others, plus multiple face-to-face training workshops, networking and more.