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Transport

Jaguar Land Rover is building a smart city hub in Ireland to test driverless cars

by Graham Hope
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Featuring smart junctions, connected roads, autonomous parking and electric vehicle charging

Jaguar Land Rover is set to create a smart city ‘hub’ to test self-driving vehicles in Shannon Free Zone Business Park, near Limerick, County Clare.

The automotive giant is partnering with an array of tech companies including Cisco, Seagate, Renovo, Red Hat, Valeo, and Mergon to develop the site, which will be called the Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI).

It will act as a testing ground for driverless versions of Jaguar’s i-Pace SUV to see how well they interact with conventional cars, pedestrians and cyclists. The FMCI will encompass eight miles of public roads, providing a variety of different driving environments and traffic scenarios.

Cyberpunk

According to JLR, the facility will be equipped with sensors, high-accuracy location systems, and a data management and control center; it will feature smart junctions, connected roads, autonomous parking and electric vehicle charging.

The company expects this to significantly advance its research into autonomous, connected, electrified and shared vehicles.

The location has been selected for a number of reasons, not least the fact it is adjacent to JLR’s existing software hub in Shannon.

It also offers the benefit of offering links to a 280-mile stretch of connected highway and a managed air traffic corridor for unmanned aerial vehicles from Shannon Airport along the Shannon Estuary.

John Cormican, general manager for Shannon Ireland Jaguar Land Rover, said: “This partnership with FMCI provides us with a real-world facility to trial our emerging autonomous, connected, electrified and shared technology in a strategic location. Collaborating with top-tier software companies will allow us to develop our future systems more efficiently.”

Russell Vickers, CEO of FMCI, added: “The smart city zone provides a first-class facility for global companies to work together and develop world-leading technology, from autonomous vehicles to connected infrastructure. The testbed provides an opportunity to test in the real world and help answer some of the questions posed by the future of mobility in a collaborative and efficient way.”

The site will generate massive amounts of data, with the sensors on the cars feeding the AI on-board and data centers analyzing operations in real time.

This process will be handled by Seagate, and Ken Claffey, vice president and general manager of Enterprise Data Solutions, said: “Managing and orchestrating the massive data flows created by autonomous vehicles requires solutions that are as mobile, intelligent, and agile as the data itself. We are excited to help pave the way to innovation in autonomous and connected technology.”

JLR has invested heavily in its self-driving program in the last few years, and in 2018 teamed up with Waymo to develop self-driving i-Paces. It has also unveiled Project Vector, an electric car platform that can be configured for autonomous vehicles.

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