This guest blog was written by Peter Stoker, Chief Engineer – CAV at Millbrook (part of CAM Testbed UK).
An introduction to Millbrook
Millbrook is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. We are independent and impartial in everything we do, providing vehicle test and validation services and systems to customers in the automotive, transport, tyre, petrochemical and defence industries.
We have a range of test facilities for full vehicles, tyres and components located in the UK, the USA and Northern Finland. These include varied outdoor and indoor test tracks, engine dynamometers, environmental chambers, e-motor and e-axle test cells, portable emissions measurement systems (PEMS), structural test laboratories, crash laboratories including a state-of-the-art ServoSled, interior systems laboratories, battery test facilities and advanced emissions chassis dynamometers.
- Millbrook designs, builds, installs, and services dynamometer test systems and an associated data acquisition and control system.
- We are home to two UK testbeds – the Controlled Urban Environment for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and the 5G Testbed for Transport Applications.
- Our employees are passionate about safety, customer service and technical excellence, making them ideal partners at any stage in the development and launch of the vehicles of tomorrow.
- We are part of Spectris plc.
What is Millbrook’s involvement in the CAM sector?
The UK’s Controlled Urban Testbed was the first in the CAM Testbed UK family to be completed and opened for business in September 2019. Millbrook’s Autonomous Village is our bespoke garage and office complex, which is home to the simulation suite. This enables the real and virtual worlds to mix, correlate and experiment in close proximity to extensive track and laboratory facilities. Partnered with the UK Atomic Energy’s Culham Science Centre, our testbed offers customers those first steps on the journey between concept and the public roads.
Backed by comprehensive test assets, including the very latest ADAS assessment tools and equipment, precise location services and open source reference vehicles, our testbed helps customers develop at pace in a repeatable, safe, private environment. Progressing along the customer journey to RACE at Culham enables our customers to prepare for public road deployment.
With access to the extensive virtual facilities at our testbed, developers can create virtual events using augmented and virtual reality for vehicles on track. The Millbrook virtual environment closely models the real world tracks and users can work on the complete virtual spectrum from software in the loop, through hardware, sensors, driver and full vehicle in the loop in full control.
Our testbed was recently the location for a project to demonstrate how future connected solutions could revolutionise patient diagnostics and treatment in the field, as well as reduce hospital numbers. This involved us equipping a standard ambulance with state-of-the-art devices and connectivity to create a “Smart Ambulance” that simulated 5G connectivity, transforming the vehicle into a unique remote consultation room. We provided access to the secure, private network, tracks and facilities to safely test the connectivity. This is just one of our many use cases that demonstrate the utility of our network and the Smart Ambulance project is one that could make a real difference to society.
How is Millbrook involved with CAM Testbed UK?
We are a founding member of the Zenzic cluster and part of the steering group, but the key partner in the CAM Testbed UK environment is the UK Atomic Energy’s RACE division who deal with remote applications in challenging environments in the nuclear industry. They see autonomous vehicles as remote applications within the road space as the challenging environment.
We are partnered with RACE to provide one testbed across two locations and form one part of the connected customer journey across the UK ecosystem. Developers can test and practice in an environment “close to public roads” across our 200 acre site. Customers then progress onwards to CAM Testbed UK public environments, or more extreme dynamic testing as their development plan sees fit.
What makes Millbrook unique?
Our tracks. Our UK Proving Ground includes a High Speed Circuit, Hill Route, Mile Straight and City Circuit, as well as off-road courses and special surfaces. High fidelity communications are fully implemented across the site, so customers have continuous access to our private network whilst testing at high speed and on the Hill Route.
We have also developed a unique simulation environment that helps drivers to become accustomed to our tracks and specific vehicles before driving on our physical proving ground. Our tracks have been digitally modelled with 1mm surface accuracy and we can simulate a variety of weather conditions, including rain, snow, sleet, changing light, clouds and sun angles. Applications for our simulator suite include CAV development and driver training. Our comprehensive, diverse and unique facilities enable companies to test and develop their connected and self-driving vehicle capabilities.