ServCity accelerates future autonomous mobility in complex urban environments

The ServCity project has deployed advanced autonomous drive technology in complex urban environments in London, integrated with the city’s infrastructure.

Following three years of research and more than 1,600 autonomous test miles driven, the ServCity consortium partners, including Connected Places Catapult, have developed a blueprint which will help UK cities incorporate advanced autonomous vehicle technologies with city infrastructure. The project also explored how cities could deliver a “Robotaxi” style service in the future for the benefit of city residents and commuters.  

ServCity is jointly funded by the UK government and consortium partners, the government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility fund administered by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and delivered by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. Over three years, six partners – Nissan, Connected Places Catapult, TRL, Hitachi Europe, the University of Nottingham and SBD Automotive – have been collaborating to develop a blueprint that will guide original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), transport providers and city planners to get ‘CAV-ready’ in the UK’s cities.  

Built upon a 100% electric Nissan LEAF, the ServCity connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) has successfully completed increasingly challenging validation trials on the roads of London, connected to the Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) in Greenwich. ServCity was able to leverage the full capabilities SMLL which used its network of roadside sensors and a data processing suite to create a futuristic co-operative infrastructure environment, sending new sources of data to the CAV to improve its situational awareness. The infrastructure can detect an object which is not within line or sight of the vehicle (e.g. around a corner or in the distance) and inform the vehicle so that it can manoeuvre to ensure smooth traffic flow, such as changing lane.  

This project, as with all the previous CAV development projects backed by UK Government funding, is an important means of giving people the confidence that CAVs are safe to introduce on UK roads as well as having a demonstrable benefit to society. To that end, the finale of the project comprises a series of demonstrations to stakeholders where guests can experience first-hand, advanced autonomous drive technologies integrated with CAV-ready infrastructure on the streets of Greenwich. 

Throughout the project Connected Places Catapult has been demonstrating the art of the possible in scaling CAV technologies, and their supporting infrastructure, to help get these vehicles delivering vital services as soon as possible. Based on the potential demand for a CAV service, combined with potential areas of operation, the Catapult has helped create a blueprint that provides a basis for follow-on work by many other organisations and aims to assist and enable the full-scale deployment of an operational Robotaxi service in a UK city. 
Marcel Pooke, Sustainability and GIS Team Lead at Connected Places Catapult