Trialing connected and self-driving vehicles on public roads can present significant challenges. But when your company is an early-stage start-up, that challenge becomes even more difficult. Imperium Drive, an autonomous mobility technology start-up founded in April 2019 in Berlin, found the UK to make testing and development easier and more streamlined.
“To test an automated vehicle on public roads in Germany, or any other location in Europe, a special test permit is required. Obtaining a permit does not only cost tens of thousands of pounds; it is also partnered with a lengthy process that could take a minimum of two months.
The challenge to test and develop would be prohibitively expensive and, especially as an early stage start-up, difficult to progress the company, products and services as rapidly as expected.”
Koosha Kaveh, Co-Founder & CEO of Imperium Drive
Imperium Drive – a mobility start-up
Imperium Drive is (now) a London based mobility start-up developing one of the most advanced remote driving technologies for autonomous vehicles. The technology, also referred to as “teleoperation”, allows a human operator to remotely connect to and drive any autonomous vehicle using live video feeds over a cellular network (4G/5G). Teleoperation technology is a backup safety tool that is only used in the instance the on-board autonomy fails and a human operator needs to take over control remotely. A reliable teleoperation capability will be an essential safety component for the commercial deployment of any autonomous fleet in the near future.
Solving the challenge with CAM Testbed UK
Research conducted by Imperium Drive found the connected and automated mobility (CAM)-friendly regulations in the UK could solve their challenge. The clearly defined Code of Practice, ease of testing on public roads and a collaborative approach to testing made the UK appealing.
In June 2019, Imperium Drive contacted Zenzic and the Department for International Trade (DIT). Within months, Imperium Drive moved the company to the UK and started testing in a controlled environment at Millbrook-Culham Urban Testbed, part of CAM Testbed UK.
With six core facilities, CAM Testbed UK offers a unique set of environments and capabilities for the testing and development of CAM technologies and services. It is the only place worldwide where ideas can be taken from concept to deployment, all within a 3-hour drive.
The comprehensive, safe and integrated testbeds, co-ordinated by Zenzic, offer virtual and physical facilities, the ability to share data and a collaborative way of working.
The CAM Testbed UK offering, as Imperium Drive have discovered, demonstrates the advantages of the UK’s testing and development ecosystem. The interoperability between the testing facilities means Imperium Drive will soon move to a semi-controlled test environment and then progress to on-road public trials.
The importance of CAM Testbed UK
Imperium Drive are currently navigating through the CAM Testbed UK ecosystem. They are currently testing at Millbrook’s proving ground on a full drive-by wire platform.
By late spring 2020, they aim to be testing a minimum viable product (MVP) at RACE semi-controlled testbed, which uses real-life driving environments, a natural progression from Millbrook. By Summer 2020, they aim to be completing public on-road trials.
How Zenzic guided the journey through the UK ecosystem
Alongside DIT, Zenzic provided initial guidance and appropriate introductions to help Imperium Drive navigate the ecosystem.
By ensuring introductions to and connections with the right people, Imperium Drive have been able to progress testing and development within the UK.
The Imperium Drive story is proof that the UK’s unique offering enables companies to test and develop their CAM technologies using world-class facilities – whether they are based in the UK or overseas. The Zenzic team coordinate and help guide companies like Imperium Drive through the ecosystem, allowing them to focus on accelerating the development of their technologies, products and services.
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