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ServCity accelerates future autonomous mobility in complex urban environments

ServCity, an autonomous mobility service research project based in the UK, has concluded its final phase of testing on the streets of London. Since 2020, the project has been working to understand the ways in which UK cities can successfully integrate autonomous vehicles and technologies into their complex urban environments to deliver a ‘robotaxi’ style service. Together, its partners – including SBD Automotive – created a blueprint of the infrastructure required to launch and support such technologies.

Over the course of three years, ServCity’s six partners – SBD Automotive, Nissan, Connected Places Catapult, TRL, Hitachi Europe, and the University of Nottingham - have been collaborating on a project that will help automotive OEMs, transport providers, and city planners prepare for the future uptake of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) across UK cities.

At the core of the project is a Nissan Leaf EV equipped with a variety of technologies that facilitate its autonomous driving functions. The ServCity CAV completed a series of increasingly challenging validation trials set in a real-world environment at the Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL), TRL’s urban testbed in Greenwich. Here, ServCity was able to leverage the lab’s full capabilities – such as a network of roadside sensors and 5G-enabled data processing suite that helped create a futuristic co-operative infrastructure environment. These systems sent new sources of data to the CAV that improved its situational awareness – making it aware of an unseen bus’s intention to stop ahead, for example.

Ultimately, the ServCity project aims to demonstrate how autonomous driving technologies can provide a people-centric mobility service while highlighting the road infrastructure changes needed to deliver the best user experience possible. As with similar CAV development projects backed by Government funding, it is an important means of building confidence among the public to show that CAVs are safe to deploy on UK roads. In fulfilling this objective, the finale of ServCity entailed a series of demonstrations that allowed stakeholders to experience its CAV and CAV-ready infrastructure – previewing what an initial deployment of these technologies may look like and understanding the services they can provide.

Commenting on the evolution of the project, SBD Automotive’s CEO Andrew Hart said: “Robotaxis have the potential to fundamentally transform mobility for both consumers and the cities they operate in. The user experience lies at the heart of that transformation, as operators will need to carefully balance customer expectations with real-world technological constraints imposed by both vehicles and city infrastructure. The ServCity project has seen theory put into practice, so we are now confident of being able to help car makers design a seamless Robotaxi experience.”

In addition to supporting the ServCity project, SBD Automotive has a wealth of experience in ADAS & autonomy spread across its research and consulting practices. Its L4 Autonomous Forecast, for example, provides insight into the growth of fully autonomous vehicles and services – understanding which segments will offer the best opportunities over time, and how L4 is expected to be deployed over the next decade. For OEMs, suppliers, start-ups, and regulators seeking to gain a deeper, more specific, understanding of the impacts ADAS and autonomy will have on everyday consumers, SBD Automotive offers custom consulting support tailored to their needs and desired outcomes.

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