In an announcement last week, Birmingham described its intention to join the world stage in the development of driverless cars.
As part of a wider speech, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street announced plans to develop 50 miles of roads across Birmingham and Coventry, designed specifically for the testing of driverless cars.
Delivered by a range of organisations from both the private and public sectors, the proposed project will be the largest and most diverse testing environment in the UK.
Andy Street said: “This is a global race for which country leads in this new technology, and I am absolutely clear that the West Midlands should lead in this area.
“We are in a race against the US, against Germany, against China, so I think it’s very important that we are really outstanding in this area”.
After winning a competition to create suitable environments for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles technology (CAV), the region was awarded the £51 million prize that will make the project viable.
While there is no actual timeline on when this project will be delivered, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark expects their to be driverless cars on Birmingham roads as soon as 2021.
Although Birmingham has about half of the necessary funding and the chance to start hosting trials, there’s still a while to go. Nevertheless, this represents a great opportunity for the West Midlands and gives the region a head start internationally.
The plans are focused around increased connectivity, providing links between the University of Warwick campus and Coventry before expanding to include Birmingham and Solihull. Plans also include further expansion to the HS2 and Birmingham Airport developments. This will provide a large enough environment for testing, aiding the development of driverless vehicles.
Headed up by Midlands Future Mobility, the consortium of partners includes WMG, Amey, AVL, Coventry University, WIG, TfWM and Innovate UK among many more.