Aberystwyth University building new test site for self-driving vehicles
Aberystwyth University is building a new test facility for self-driving vehicles.
Autonomous farming, last mile delivery services and self-driving off-road vehicles will be put through their paces at the new large-scale robotic testbed.
The Aberystwyth Natural Terrain for Unconstrained Robotics – ANTUR or Welsh for ‘adventure’ – will cover 500 hectares with 11.5 kilometres of tracks and will feature grassland, peat bog, rocks and mud.
Vehicles will be able to travel to heights of up to 600 metres above sea level.
Once constructed, the facility will be used to test the latest innovations in autonomous vehicles that have been developed by the University on land and in the air.
Researchers have built a number of robotic vehicles in recent years, including large four and six-wheel drive vehicles and drones.
Dr Frédéric Labrosse from Aberystwyth University’s Computer Science department said: “Autonomous driving is one of the most exciting technology innovations of recent years and can be used in many areas where it is either not safe to send human drivers or using automated systems can free time for human drivers.
“The years ahead offer even more potential with work underway on automating farming tasks, including autonomous driving on difficult terrain.”
The new facility includes resources at Aberystwyth University’s Pwllpeiran Upland Research Centre and land in and around Aberystwyth.
The first stage of the project is building two secure office and workshop sites provided with power, heating and connectivity. Construction will be completed by April 2023.
Plans for the second stage, scheduled to be completed by 2024, include building a large indoor test facility, office space and workshop areas.
The project brings together existing facilities and will allow robotics development and testing on a larger scale
Dr Labrosse added: “We have been testing our algorithms and robots in the hills behind Aberystwyth for quite a while now and showing how robust our systems are, but ANTUR will create many new possibilities such as allowing live streaming of data and visualisations, as well as offer a level of comfort we never had before thanks to the workshops in the hills.
The facilities are being funded by a £180,000 grant from the Higher Education Research Council.
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