Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is taking its autonomous car development to another level, with the announcement of a new dedicated 'city' hub where it can carry out real-world testing of its self-driving vehicles.
The Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI) is a collaboration between JLR and global technology companies and will be developed near JLR's existing Shannon software hub, where its next-generation electric and autonomous vehicles are designed.
"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," John Cormican, General Manager for Shannon Ireland Jaguar Land Rover, said.
"Collaborating with top-tier software companies will allow us to develop our future systems more efficiently."
Other companies involved in the project include multinational IT company Cisco, data storage company Seagate, self-driving software company Renovo, open source software provider Red Hat, smart mobility company Valeo and automotive parts manufacturer Mergon.
The testbed will encompass 12km of public roads, allowing vehicles to share the roads with other cars, cyclists and pedestrians and giving researchers the opportunity to simulate plenty of real-world traffic scenarios.
The site will be equipped with sensors, location systems, self-driving prototype cars and a central data management and control hub, so researchers can capture and analyse live information.
It will also feature electric car charging, autonomous parking sites and a link to a 450km stretch of connected highway and an air traffic corridor for unmanned aerial vehicles.
The plan is for the autonomous cars to share the roads with regular motorists, with FMCI already in conversation with the relevant government bodies to ensure the right legislation is in place by early next year.
Of course, JLR points out there will be safety drivers behind the wheels of the autonomous vehicles to intervene as needed.
The first vehicle to be rolled out at the site will be the Jaguar I-Pace, which began autonomous testing in prototype form in late 2019.
General activity at the Future Mobility Campus Ireland is slated to commence in January 2021, with vehicle testing to begin in February in 2021 and wider infrastructure expected to be in place by September 2021.