Over 50 automotive and tech experts descended on Coventry this week (17th October) for our CAM Supply Chain UK welcome event to explore how the UK industry can capitalise on the bountiful opportunities presented by the development and deployment of Connected and Autonomous Mobility (CAM).
Hosted by Zenzic and the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), the CAM Supply Chain event took place at Aurrigo’s Global Training and Testing Centre in the West Midlands in front of six of the organisation’s world-leading autonomous pods and shuttles.
The event brought together the businesses involved in the latest Commercialising CAM Supply Chain UK programme, which last month saw 13 ambitious projects, each aimed at driving the sector forward, share £16 million in funding.
Funded by CCAV and delivered by Zenzic and Innovate UK, the project aims to develop CAM technologies, products, and services that can be commercialised to put the UK at the fore in the global race to embracing automated vehicles, as Michael Talbot, Deputy Head of CCAV, was keen to point out upon welcoming everyone to Coventry for the event.
“The journey to embracing self-driving vehicles has been an interesting one and it is great to see so many people helping shape the future of transport right here in this room,” he said.
“What we’re working on right now will see us bring together some of the brightest minds in the UK to deliver solutions that will be used the world-over in the development and deployment of connected and automated vehicles.”
David Keene, co-founder of Aurrigo, followed Michael on stage to introduce the company, the venue, and to share its inspirational story of going from start-up to the stock exchange in just 30 years…
“I have to say a great thanks to Innovate UK, CCAV and Zenzic for their support. Without them, we are certain we wouldn’t have secured the investment required to get us where we are today.
“To date, we’ve had something like £17m worth of funding from their programmes which has been key to helping us scale the business. We had a great story to sell to our investors, but we couldn’t have written that story without their support.”
Aurrigo has participated in numerous Zenzic, Innovate UK and CCAV projects over recent years and is also spearheading one of the 13 CAM Supply Chain UK projects.
Working with the UK arm of global delivery giant UPS, the Autonomous Cargo project will develop and deploy Auto-Cargo, an autonomous electric vehicle designed to move heavy cargo loads to and from aircraft at the UPS hub at East Midlands Airport, the UK’s second-largest cargo terminal.
“We realised early-on that aviation is ripe for automation, particularly when it comes to baggage and cargo handling,” David added.
“When you go to an airport, you’ll see drivers pulling dollies and it has been like that for 40-50 years. Automation will change that forever. Since the pandemic, we just don’t have the staff anymore. We have a huge labour shortage, and this will help us plug the gap.
“There is also huge scope to extend this technology into other sectors and the support we’ve received will be key to helping us do just that.”
Safety, security, performance and connectivity all featured heavily throughout the speeches, with each of the projects sharing their aims to revolutionise their individual areas of focus.
Rajeev Dattani, taking to the stage on behalf of Zero Point Motion and the Photonic Inertial Sensors for Automotive (PISA) project, was one such example.
Rajeev explained how – alongside Wae Technologies, the University of the West of England and Royal Institute of Navigation – they are looking to improve and validate world-leading motion sensors that meet the strictest of requirements for the commercial market and help accelerate the pace at which autonomous vehicles can hit public roads in the UK.
He said: “Our aim over the course of the project will be to demonstrate our tech to the wider automotive market. Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) Inertial measurement units (IMUs) typically exhibit a high degree of noise and drift, limiting their use in safety and mission critical systems, such as autonomous vehicle navigation.
“Through this project, we hope to progress towards automotive certification of ZPM’s optically-enhanced chip-scale IMUs for tracking motion which are 100x more sensitive than automotive sensors available today. This is a key step in the development of Autonomous Vehicles and progression towards SAE Autonomy Levels 3 to 5.”
“We have a lot of good software development companies in the UK but we’re lagging behind when it comes to hardware. We want to change that.”
Aside from developing the software and solutions to power the autonomous vehicle revolution, the latest round of the CAM Supply Chain UK projects also focuses heavily on hardware.
A perfect example of this is the Systems for Autonomy in Fail Operational Environments (SAFE) programme led by StreetDrone and supported by the University of Surrey, Alcon Components and Chassis Autonomy, which has secured £1.8million in funding from the programme.
The project aims to develop a fully redundant, fail-operational Drive-by-Wire technology platform to enable safe driver-out, on-road autonomous vehicle capability.
By integrating purpose-built sub-systems, the project hopes to create an automated vehicle capable of achieving SAE Level 4 autonomy, meaning its safety-critical vehicle systems will ensure lateral and longitudinal control, even in the event of a single-point fault or failure.
As Ross James, Head of Products & Partnerships at StreetDrone, explained: “We have a lot of good software development companies in the UK focused on autonomous software, which are progressing at pace, but we need the hardware for such L4 platforms.
“They’re lagging behind however through this consortium we want to change that. We have a real opportunity to build up the UK’s CAM ecosystem and this project will hopefully go a long way to helping us achieve that.”
Following presentations from representatives of each of the 13 projects, it was Zenzic’ Programme Director, Mark Cracknell, who brought the event to a close.
As well as sharing insights into Zenzic’s efforts to fortify the supply chain, he also spoke of the team’s pride of bringing so many innovative companies together to “build a real business case for their products” and “help create a real CAM ecosystem for the UK”.
“We have seen today how we have brought companies together that are developing real solutions to develop and enhance the UK’s CAM supply chain,” he said.
“The aim for each project is that they will be integrated with customers and end-users so that, by 2025, we have built a real business case for each of the products while creating a real CAM ecosystem for the UK.
“That’s exactly why Zenzic was set up and is what we’re here to do, so it’s been fantastic hearing from all of the projects helping us to achieve this.”
Interested in learning more about the CAM Supply Chain UK programme and how each of the projects to share the funding? Click here.