Wellesbourne to become a world centre for driverless cars


Wellesbourne is set to become Europe’s capital for the development of driverless electric cars with the construction of a pioneering multi-million pound research centre.

The ‘Smart City Mobility Centre’ planned at Warwick University’s Wellesbourne Campus will be a massive boost to the district and ensure South Warwickshire is at the cutting edge of a technology, long tipped to revolutionise the car industry.

The one-of-a-kind centre was announced by the University of Warwick and Jaguar Land Rover last week.

The centre at Wellesbourne will be concerned with developing the vehicle prototypes and the technology involved, with actual testing to take place at the University’s main campus.

As the centre develops, it is expected to play a significant role in transforming the future of UK transport with the aim of making congestion, emissions and road traffic accidents a thing of the past.

Engineers from Jaguar Land Rover and the Warwick Manufacturing Group (a department at the University of Warwick) will work together at the site, drawing on expertise in battery technology from the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, which will also be located in Coventry and Warwickshire.

WMG Chairman Professor Lord Bhattacharyya said: “This is the first time in any country that such a comprehensive system is being designed and tested. This will help integrate plans for transport systems for the future that have the potential to bring significant economic benefits to transform and improve the lives of a great many people who could benefit from even safer, less congested, and more environmentally sustainable transport.”

Professor Dr Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer of Jaguar Land Rover, added: “Jaguar Land Rover welcomes the UK’s first Smart City Mobility centre in the West Midlands.

“The centre, based at the University of Warwick’s Wellesbourne campus, will create state-of-the-art electric vehicle platforms and integrated driverless capability to support the smart cities of the future.

“It builds on collaboration between Jaguar Land Rover, WMG, the University of Warwick and government to develop 5G connectivity in the region – this is critical for new mobility solutions and services that will transform customer experiences in the future and make congestion, traffic accidents and emissions a thing of the past.”

“We look forward to starting this industry-leading project, which will develop future prototypes that put the UK at the forefront of automotive technology.”

The University of Warwick’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Croft said: “This transformative initiative brings together WMG and the University of Warwick’s proven global expertise in research and application of smart, connected, driverless capable and electrified transport; and Jaguar Land Rover’s vision for the future of automotive industry.

“The technology and vehicles that will help transform global transport will not only be developed at the University of Warwick. The first vehicles to be prototyped as a result of this initiative will be extensively tested on the roads of the main University of Warwick campus.”

“This confirms the West Midlands and Warwickshire as being not just the heart but also the brains of automotive development in the UK, and upholds the UK as a global leader in the adoption of new transport systems.”

Cllr Tony Jefferson, leader of Stratford District Council, added: “This is exceptionally good news for the district, cutting edge technology and jobs will come with this. This district has performed very well economically over recent years and investment like this will ensure that will continue, we can’t take economic growth and prosperity for granted, it takes hard work and projects such as this.

“With this centre, JLR, Aston Martin and a number of other companies with bases in the area, it really does make Stratford District a real hub for the automotive industry.

“Driverless technology is very promising and even if it takes many years before we’re all in driverless cars, developments in the technology now certainly bring benefits and possibly be applicable elsewhere.

“Any help or support that the University of Warwick may need from Stratford-on-Avon District Council we will be only too pleased to provide.”

Motoring journalist and Stratford resident Quentin Wilson said: “Anything that brings investment to Stratford-upon-Avon and the surrounding area is very welcome and becoming a centre for electrification is a great idea.

“Full driverless cars are still probably around 15-20 years away, but we need to explore the technology and what better place to do that then here in Warwickshire.

“We’re not quite there yet but with companies like Jaguar Land Rover in the area, determined to drive this development forward, we’re in a great location for a centre like this.”

Adding his support for the project the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP, said: “I am delighted by today’s announcement that Europe’s first multi-million-pound Smart City Mobility Centre is to be established on the University of Warwick’s Wellesbourne campus with additional self-driving capable vehicle testing on the University of Warwick’s campus on the border of Coventry and Warwickshire.

“The Centre brings together, government support for applied technology research, WMG at the University of Warwick’s research expertise, and Jaguar Land Rover’s leading research and engineering capabilities. This is a clear example of our Industrial Strategy in practice as we execute our Future Mobility Grand Challenge.”