BP, Honda, Aviva back “world’s most complex” smart mobility project in London
Energy giant BP and car maker Honda have joined with insurance companies Aviva and Hastings Direct to fund a new three-year smart mobility pilot in London to develop and test new transport technologies, road services, and business models.
The programme will be managed by UK research and innovation centre TRL, formerly the UK government’s Transport Research Laboratory, and DG Cities, the commercial arm of the Digital Greenwich smart-city set-up in southeast London.
TRL, privatised in 1996, will provide project management and research expertise. DG Cities will manage the practical aspects of the integration of future transport services into a live city environment.
The research group will leverage a £19 million joint investment from government and industry in the UK for the Smart Mobility Living Lab: London (SMLL), a test environment for future transport and mobility solutions in London.
SMLL is a set of “real world test routes” in and around the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. “The routes will provide the most complex urban, real-world test and validation environment in the world involving the general public,” the group said in a statement.
The group said it will direct research activities that give its members “unique insight and early access” to the emergent smart mobility market. Results will allow members to play a “pivotal role” in the design of sustainable new transport systems, it said.
“The group will ask the difficult questions that underpin transformational change, and consider their impact on society,” said the statement.
The door is open for new members, from start-ups and innovators, through to well-established global brands, to invest in the programme to research or trial technology for connected and autonomous vehicles, electrification, or new forms of mobility service.
“SMEs will be assisted to find suitable partners to collaborate on R&D. The technologies and business models that demonstrate performance and societal benefits in this environment will integrate into thousands of urban environments globally,” it said.
Rob Wallis, chief executive of TRL, said: “The launch of this programme… evidences a continuation of TRL’s leading role in delivering impactful innovation for society.”
Trevor Dorling, managing director of DG Cities, said: “Under the direction of the founding members, the research will provide valuable insights into the way transport is changing and its impact on business, cities and residents.”
Adrian Killham, UK senior vice president for Honda’s European R&D business, described the project as “important and far-sighted”, in pursuit of technologies that can help deliver a “clean, safe and secure society“.
“London, as an expanding, dynamic mega-city, is actively seeking solutions to the challenges of mobility for its population,” he said.
Roy Williamson, vice president for advanced mobility at BP, said: “[This] gives us a real life environment to test and bring our mobility strategy to life, and to get it right for consumers… We get to work with like-minded partners on the big questions and challenges facing mobility in our cities.”
Adam Beckett, product and propositions director at Aviva, said: “The future of mobility – how people, goods and services get around in the society of tomorrow – is key to how we serve our customers for the next decade and beyond.”
Lucy Johnson, managing director of underwriting services at Hastings Direct, said: “The future developments in vehicle technology will continue to change the cars on the road, and the way customers view, buy, service and claim on their insurance. We are a technology led business and intend to be at the forefront of this industry change.”