Greenwich CAV testbed finds positive support for autonomous vehicles but safety concerns paramount

Posted on: 06/06/2018

As networking events for new rounds of Connected & Autonomous Vehicle research funding open for registration, we look back at the first city testbed.


Preliminary research from the GATEway project, one of four city trials supported by the 2014 government‚Äôs “Introducing driverless cars to UK roads” competition, found more than three-quarters of people surveyed support the idea of driverless vehicles on urban spaces in Greenwich.

The £8 million GATEway project — short for Greenwich Automated Transport Environment and led by TRL — tested automated electric shuttle vehicles in publicly accessible areas in the Royal Borough to assess levels of public trust and the barriers to public acceptance.

One of three city testbed projects covering four cities

The three-year GATEway project was the first of three government supported city testbed projects to complete its research programme at the end of March. Back in December 2014, along with two other consortia, it was awarded government investment of just under £6 million, with the remaining £2 million raised by the project partners.

During the project, the consortium’s Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) test facilities came under the aegis of The Smart Mobility Living Lab: London, now part of the Meridian testbed ecosystem.

Other recipients of grant funding from the Introducing driverless cars to UK roads competition were the UK Autodrive project being led by Ove Arup & Partners at Milton Keynes and Coventry (granted £9 million out of £17 million total budget), and the Atkins UK led VENTURER project in Bristol, that was granted £3.2 million out of a budget of £4.9 million.

Research streams

The GATEway prototypes and services were tested in simulation trials, through observations of pedestrian behavioural interactions, automated grocery delivery trials and a public shuttle service that offered a hop-on-hop-off service in the peninsula.

Overall, 31,000 people engaged with the project, including at an exhibition at the Royal College of Art at London’s Transport Museum. More than 5,000 people signed up to participate in the self-driving shuttle service trials, and 1,300 members of the public were interviewed.

The research was conducted by TRL, the University of Greenwich, Commonplace and the Royal College of Art, in partnership with Westfield Sportscars, Fusion Processing, Heathrow, Gobotix and Oxbotica and a collaboration with Ocado Technology. Other partners included insurance company RSA and mobile communication provider O2 Telefonica. DG Cities, an urban innovation agency spun out from the Royal Borough of Greenwich helped implement and integrate this CAV service into the local urban environment.

Broad support for CAVs

Feedback in the form of a ‘sentiment map’ produced by Commonplace indicated broad support (78%) for the idea of driverless vehicles on urban streets, provided they are kept safe and resistant to cyber attack.

The University of Greenwich also found that 43%, out of a sample of 925 people, felt positively towards the concept, while 46% were undecided, citing key concerns about cybersecurity (44%), road safety (51%), other (5%).

Only 11% of participants felt negatively towards CAVs, a figure reportedly borne out by the sentiment mapping. The research also found urbanites happy to share transport for last mile journeys to-and-from transport hubs and that private car ownership was of lesser importance than ease of mobility.

CAV R&D capabilities in Greenwich and Stratford

The GATEway testbed paved the way for the local Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL), a £19m Connected and Autonomous Vehicles testbed 2 project benchmarking CAVs in a complex and urban environment. Based in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and nearby Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.

The Greenwich testbed also successfully attracted government support for the following subsequent projects:

•       CAV 1 MOVE-UK: accelerating automated driving by connected validation & big data analysis

•       CAV 1 Atlas feasibility project

•       CAV 2 MERGE Greenwich

Coming opportunities to engage in CAV research

In total, the UK government has now committed £250 million of investment to position the UK as a global leader in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) development and deployment. This includes:

•       £150 million for collaborative R&D projects from which, to date, £100 million has been committed to 51 projects, with industry contributing a further £56 million

•       £100 million for CAV testing infrastructure, £51 million of which has so far been committed to 4 infrastructure projects; 2 ‘controlled’ testing facilities and 2 ‘live’ public testing facilities

Other government activities include a recently closed £15 million simulation and modelling R&D competition, Meridian CAV Testbed phase 2 competitions and a fourth CAV competition  expected to be announced sometime this summer.

The networking and pitching activities for the Introducing driverless cars to UK roads competition were facilitated by KTN back in July 2014. Four years on, KTN’s networking activities will be nationwide:

Meridian Mobility 2 Competition Briefing – CAV Data

11 June – Webcast


Meridian Mobility 3 Competition Briefing – Connecting Communities and CAV Support Infrastructure (Parking)

8 June – Webcast


Meridian Hackathon

Meridian in collaboration with the KTN and Brauntingthorpe are organising a one-of-a-kind Hackathon, over two days in July.

A panel of judges will be awarding prizes for:

·       Best demonstration insights generated from CAV data sharing

·       Best demo of a digital twin

·       Best design for CAV cybersecurity

Teams of interested parties, students, and individuals wanting to showcase their work in front of leading companies and industry figures are welcome to register for the Hackathon. Further details about the prizes and opportunities will be announced soon.

Sponsorship is sought from organisations that would like to be directly involved. For more information on the opportunities please contact George Filip.

3 – 4 July – Lutterworth


CAV R&D Events (details to be announced)

Opportunities for pitching and 1:1 meetings

There will be a webcast of the London on 26 June.

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