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Government launches Meridian to accelerate autonomous vehicle technology development

Mark Moran
07 September 2017
Meridian was launched by Jim Campbell at Cenex-LCV 2017
Meridian was launched by Jim Campbell at Cenex-LCV 2017

 

An Intelligent Mobility accelerator has been launched by the UK government to lead the development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs). Meridian, a subsidiary of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), will operate as a mobility technology cluster designed to accelerate testing, development and adoption of CAVs within the UK and across international borders. Supported by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and the Automotive Council, Meridian has secured an initial multi-million pound investment fund to be matched by industry for the development of an integrated CAV testing network.

Meridian will bring together established UK start-ups, OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and SMEs (small-to-medium sized enterprises) from a number of industries to encourage cross-sector collaboration. These sectors will include artificial intelligence, insurance, legal, telecommunications, gaming, mobility and financial services.

Meridian made its debut at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) event held at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. Jim Campbell, Meridian’s launch director, said: “In order for CAVs to be fully adopted they need to function seamlessly on all roads. Meridian will focus on integrating and connecting these vehicles with complex environments in the UK and around the world. For this to happen we need all industries, and government, to work together on the same technologies and the same standards. For this to happen collaboration is key. Meridian will give the UK the power to innovate CAV technology faster and more decisively than ever before, creating a test bed of facilities throughout the UK. This UK-wide operation will enable the UK to become globally competitive in CAV technology and open up new opportunities in the supply chain.”

Meridian will seek to leverage the UK’s existing test facilities, including proving grounds such as Millbrook, the already established connected public corridor and complementing previous initiatives and programmes. It will also create its own Spoke Network, a community of the UK’s leading academic institutions, to share best practice between academia and industry. “The Spokes will be established within the agreed geographic boundaries across the UK,” said Campbell. “They will boost innovation, job creation and productivity through cross-sector collaboration, ensuring easy access to the CAV supply chain for SMEs and start-ups from a range of industries.” 

Over the last few years the UK government has invested in a number of initiatives for the development of CAV technology. Marking the launch of Meridian, climate change and industry minister Claire Perry, said: “At the heart of our Industrial Strategy is a commitment to delivering world-class science, research and innovation. The Meridian co-ordination hub embodies this ambition, creating a globally recognisable brand that will bring the automotive sector, academia and government together behind a common set of strategic goals.”

In addition to strengthening existing capabilities and creating new ones, Meridian will create its own Spoke Network – a community of the UK’s leading academic institutions – set up to share best practice between academia and industry. “The Spokes will be established within the agreed geographic boundaries across the UK,” said Campbell.  “They will boost innovation, job creation and productivity through cross-sector collaboration, ensuring easy access to the CAV supply chain for SMEs and start-ups from a range of industries.”

 
 
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