Engineering firm to build West Midlands testbed for autonomous vehicles

Engineering and professional services consultancy WSP will design real-world proving facility for connected and autonomous vehicles as part of a £1.7m a Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) contract.

The 100km testbed will run between Coventry, Solihull and Birmingham and WSP will design and support the delivery of the facility for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) in the West Midlands.

Building of the CAV test bed follows the Government’s decision last year to name the West Midlands as the UK’s first Future Mobility Zone.

WSP, which recently completed a major relocation of 700 staff to a new headquarters in Birmingham, is now overseeing the preliminary and detailed design of the TfWM elements of the Midlands Future Mobility CAV Testbed.

“The West Midlands is at the heart of the UK’s transport network and is rightly placed to play a huge role in the future of transport,” said Shafiq Garda, Project Director for Intelligent Transport Services at WSP.

“WSP is passionate about supporting the West Midlands further embrace innovation and develop new infrastructure that is ready for the future.

“The West Midlands has always been at the forefront of the UK car manufacturing industry and we look forward to working with TfWM in realising the economic and social benefits that new modes of transport offer, truly helping to rev the Midlands Engine.”

WSP has already carried out a design feasibility study for the testbed project, successfully identifying 140 potential sites across Coventry, Solihull and Birmingham.

TfWM will use the facility to trial new modes of transport, services and other technologies such as hi-tech weather stations, live cameras and GNSS correction towers to provide high accuracy positioning for vehicles using GPS data.

WSP is now in the design and deliver phase for the physical infrastructure needed to support the project, including installing roadside units to enable communication with CAV services on vehicles.

The firm will also assist TfWM in appointing a construction partner for the delivery and commissioning stages of the test facility.

Once complete, the facility will be available, through Midlands Future Mobility, for manufacturers of CAV vehicles and systems to trial Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) services – driving research and development and supporting TfWM as it pursues its Future Mobility Programme

Chris Lane, Head of Transport Innovation at TfWM, said: “TfWM is moving beyond demonstrating the potential of Future Mobility Services and technologies, to using this technology to meet real-world transport challenges that the West Midlands faces today, in a sustainable way.”

This real-world proving project with TfWM is similar to work delivered by WSP to support the design phase of the A2M2 Connected Corridor between London and Dover.