Transport System Catapult hosted a two week series of debates and events last month, titled the Imagine Festival, to mark the opening of its Imovation Centre, an innovation and exhibition space connected to it’s offices in Milton Keynes.
The Imovation Centre - a triple portmanteau re-branding of intelligent mobility combined with innovation - includes demonstration and visualisation studios, development labs, presentation areas and workspaces as a collaboration space.
It was officially opened on 12 June by UK Business Secretary Vince Cable, who stated, “Britain has a long history of transport innovation; from the shipbuilders who paved the way for globalisation, to the railways, that underpinned the industrial revolution.”
Speaking to an audience of invited guests he added, “This new innovation centre will ensure the UK is well placed to profit from the increased demand for high-tech transport solutions- creating jobs, supporting businesses, and driving economic growth”.
Update on the LUTZ Pathfinder project
The festival included a series of debates, workshops and some information on the progress of Transport Systems Catapult projects.
This included a progress update on the LUTZ Pathfinder project given by RDM Group Chief Engineer Jez Coates in the 11 June “Designing the Future” tech talk.
Described as a “tantalising first glimpse” of the technical specifications for the autonomous vehicles currently being designed at RDM's Coventry base, Coates revealed that his team are looking at using variable speeds of up to 24 kilometres an hour, depending upon the amount of available space and number of pedestrians in the vicinity.
Previously, as announced on 12 May naming of RDM as the contractor chosen to build the prototype driverless vehicles, the maximum speed of the vehicles was stated to be no more than a fast walking pace, due to safety concerns.
With the prototypes to be tested on pavement rather than Milton Keynes roads - particular challenges will be faced. TSC’s programme Manager Neil Fulton demonstrated the scenario that awaits the pods once they have been deemed ready for testing in public, with the help of a film shot from a bicycle riding along part of the route where the pods will operate.
“I would say that taking the vehicles off the road and onto pavements actually intensifies the challenge, because of the increased interaction you have with people and obstacles," Fulton said at the talk.
University partnership announced
The festival was also a vehicle for announcing the results of TSC’s competitive tender process for selecting partner institutions under its University partnership programme.
Fourteen UK universities were selected to partner with the TSC for a three year partnership allowing access for researchers at the Catapult's Imovation Centre and to work alongside industry experts, and, in return, provide a network of expertise for the Catapult.
The programme also provides overall funding for these institutions of £1 million in the period.
Organised in eight regional hubs, the selected universities are: