Monday, 29 August 2016
Horiba MIRA readies for automated driving
Horiba MIRA is readying itself for the road ahead when facilities will be needed for the development of driverless cars.George Gillespie, Horba MIRA chief executive.
“In the world of personal mobility, change is in the air, or more precisely on the road. Not since the internal combustion engine got us off our horses at the end of the 19th century has the future of transport looked so different and the market opportunity so dynamic,” he said.
And, as part of its investment in the future, Horiba MIRA has just finished resurfacing Bend No. 3 and Straight No.1 of its High Speed Circuit. Work was completed on Wednesday, 17 August, over two weeks ahead of schedule. This has been no mean feat, with bends on the circuit banking up to 33 degrees. The High Speed Circuit is an intrinsic part of the entire MIRA Proving Ground which is likely to play a key role in the development of driverless vehicles.
Gillespie’s bold statement regarding the UK’s role in driverless car technology, captures the present “mood of excitement within the automotive industry”.
As a pioneering global provider of engineering, research and test services to the sector, Gillespie believes Horiba MIRA is in the vanguard of developments.
In Gillespie’s analysis, two global megatrends lie behind the way the human relationship with the car is evolving and the industry along with it.
Megatrends point the way
The first global megatrend has been ongoing for the last 25 years and revolves around continued efforts to reduce noxious gas emissions and carbon fuel consumption. This entails efficiency and environmental improvements to petrol and diesel engines, accompanied by increasing electrification, moving towards hybrids, battery-powered vehicles and alternative fuels.
Activity in this area has intensified of late, though, in response to the fallout from the so-called “dieselgate” scandal, involving misreporting of engine and emissions data by Volkswagen and other vehicle manufacturers. As a result, there has been a renewed focus from the regulatory authorities on emissions and fuel-economy performance and testing.
For the UK, this represents an important potential growth area, with the Automotive Council UK and government having identified the low-carbon powertrain – engines and transmissions – as a key differentiator going forward.
The second big megatrend is really about the car becoming a feature of a connected lifestyle and part of the internet of things – almost like a smartphone on wheels.
“In fact, the car is actually arriving pretty late to the party, with the automotive industry one of the last big markets to finally feel the force of the digital revolution. However, change is coming now and coming very quickly, says Gillespie.
A lot of work at present is around technologies for vehicles that are increasingly intelligent – fitted with sensors such as cameras and radar – so they are increasingly aware of their surroundings and can take decisions on behalf of the driver on what to do, as well as optimise safety and efficiency. In addition, the cars are connected and it is this internet connectivity that enables them to become part of a 21st-century citizen’s extended digital life.
Ultimately, the advances in connected and intelligent technologies lead us in the direction of autonomous vehicles or driverless cars as they are known. For the UK, these represent a major market opportunity and focus for investment.
According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the overall economic and social benefit of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) could be in the region of £51 billion a year by 2030. CAVs carry the potential to create an additional 320,000 jobs in the UK, and save more than 2,500 lives and prevent over 25,000 serious accidents.