WSP to design connected and autonomous vehicle testbed in the West Midlands

ITS (UK) Executive Member WSP, the engineering and professional services consultancy, is working with fellow member Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) to design and support the delivery of an over 100km testbed facility for connected and autonomous vehicles in the West Midlands.

The project is part of a wider contract with TfWM worth more than £1.7million. 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.

TfWM will use the facility to trial new modes of transport, services and technologies, after the Government’s decision last year to name the West Midlands as the UK’s first Future Mobility Zone. Following the announcement, which highlighted the West Midlands’ position in the heart of the UK with strong transport links, the region is set to play a crucial role in reshaping the national and international transport and mobility landscape, as well as firmly establishing the UK’s presence in the development of connected and autonomous vehicles.

WSP has already carried out a design feasibility study for the testbed project, successfully identifying 140 potential sites across the three areas. The firm 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. Other technologies to be rolled out include hi-tech weather stations, live cameras and GNSS correction towers to provide high accuracy positioning for vehicles using GPS data. WSP 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.

Shafiq Garda, project director for Intelligent Transport Services at WSP, said: “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. 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.

“Applying the results from our feasibility study and moving onto the design phase, this testbed will pave the way for a rigorous and safe approach to testing connected and autonomous vehicles, driving innovation and the intelligent roll-out of these technologies in the years to come.”

WSP has also been appointed by TfWM to lead on the development phase of its Future Mobility 2022 project, launched to make a strategic case for wide adoption of Future Mobility Services to solve real-world transport challenges by exploiting cutting edge future technologies at a multi-modal level.

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

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