Nissan-backed autonomous mobility project begins testing

The Nissan Leaf project car will be on public roads in the vicinity of the Smart Mobility Living Lab, London.

The UK’s autonomous mobility service research project started in London. It will help cities and complex environments to take advantage of new vehicle technologies.

ServCity, a collaboration project between the UK government and the industry, aims to overcome obstacles that prevent autonomous vehicles from being deployed in UK cities.

The government has provided funding of PS100 million for the project through its Intelligent Mobility Fund. The University of Nottingham, Hitachi, and Nissan are also backers.

After simulation, testing and development on private tracks, the project will now be available for public use near Greenwich’s Smart Mobility Living Lab. It states that the long-term goal is to make autonomous vehicles safer and more user-friendly.

The vehicle, named CAV (connected autonomous vehicle) by ServCity is based on an all-electric Nissan Leaf. It also features a bespoke technology. It can connect to roadside sensors to create a “cooperative infrastructure environment”.

“ServCity will use a combination test simulation, end-user research, and real-world trials to determine how cities can harness the potential of future mobility solutions, and accelerate their deployment,” stated ServCity.

“ServCity focuses on three areas: technology, people, and scalability. We aim to make the user experience as simple, inclusive, and engaging as possible.

One company involved in pushing the autonomous technology believes that user experience is crucial to its success.

Andrew Hart, director at SBD Automotive, stated that “Robotaxis can fundamentally transform mobility both for consumers and cities they operate in.” Operators will have to balance customer expectations and real-world technological constraints in order to create a user experience that is truly transformative.

“SBD is proud that it is a part the ServCity project. We bring our decades-long experience working with car manufacturers to help create and test new approaches to delivering a seamless Robotaxi experience.

ServCity has previously undertaken a PS13.5m HumanDrive project that lasted 30 months and was based on an autonomous Nissan Leaf.

Grand Drive was a second project that explored whether autonomous cars could be used for long-distance travel. The Leaf traveled 230 miles between Nissan’s Cranfield, Bedfordshire technical centre, and its Sunderland factory. It was the UK’s longest self-driving vehicle to make a single trip.