ServCity: a project making autonomous mobility a reality in the UK’s cities

  • ServCity autonomous mobility service research project begins testing in London.
  • Three-year project aims to deploy cutting-edge autonomous vehicle technology in complex urban environments.
  • ServCity partners will develop a blueprint that directly tackles barriers to AD deployment in UK cities.

London, 16th February 2022 - ServCity, the UK’s newest autonomous mobility service research project, has reached an important milestone and begun its testing phase on the streets of London. The project will find ways to help cities harness the latest autonomous vehicle technologies and successfully incorporate them into a complex urban environment.

ServCity is jointly funded by government and industry, the government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility fund is administered by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and delivered by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. Over three years, six partners – Nissan, the Connected Places Catapult, TRL, Hitachi Europe, the University of Nottingham and SBD Automotive – will work together to develop a blueprint that directly tackles the barriers to deploying autonomous vehicles in the UK’s cities.

After months of development, simulation and testing on private test tracks the ServCity project has now reached the stage where the ServCity Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) is being tested on the streets of London at the Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) based in Greenwich. Built upon a 100% electric Nissan LEAF, the ServCity CAV will be put through its paces and tested in the heart of the capital in a complex urban environment. ServCity will be leveraging the full capabilities of the SMLL by using the roadside sensors and processing power to create a cooperative infrastructure environment, which will add to the CAVs own situational awareness.

Through a combination of test simulation, end-user experience research and real-world trials, ServCity will inform how cities can exploit the potential of future mobility solutions and accelerate their deployment. Concentrating on the three key areas of technology, people and scalability, ServCity aims to ensure the user experience is as intuitive, inclusive and “engaging” as possible.

This project, backed by Government funding, will not only help make autonomous vehicles more user friendly, but also give users confidence that they can respond quickly and safely and to all types of challenges they face on the roads.

Bob Bateman (Project Manager) from Nissan explains: “We are extremely proud to be a part of the ServCity project and are excited to trial our 100% electric Nissan LEAF as test vehicles. Our Nissan Intelligent Mobility strategy strives to achieve a mobility future that is more electric, more autonomous and more connected and we look forward to working in collaboration with ServCity’s other partners to achieve this.”

Edward Mayo (Programme Manager) from the Connect Places Catapult said: “The Connected Places Catapult supports organisations in harnessing emerging technologies and developing new services. ServCity is a perfect example of how we can use this approach to deploy autonomous vehicles on a wide scale to achieve the aim of Intelligent Mobility and improve the movement of both people and goods. The commencement of testing in London represents an important milestone to the ServCity project.”

Lucien Linders (General Manager of SMLL) adds: “As world leaders in creating the future of transport, TRL is committed to developing safe systems that are accessible to everyone. TRL’s Smart Mobility Living Lab is a real world urban testbed whose roadside sensor infrastructure and facilities support the development process for CAVs to acquire better shared situational awareness. As the flagship urban test facility of CAM Testbed UK in London, we are uniquely placed to test and trial future mobility services in preparation for their commercial deployment. We continue to be very proud of offering our expertise to this ground-breaking ServCity project and working together with the other project partners.”

Nick Blake (Chief Innovation Strategist) from Hitachi Europe explains: “The team at Hitachi’s European Research & Development Group is focused on tackling the complex technical challenges involved in autonomous driving in congested urban environments. Our role in the ServCity project is to develop the technology behind predicting – and safely responding to – other moving objects such as pedestrians, cyclists and cars, as well as delivering accurate and robust localisation solutions.”

Gary Burnett (Chair of Transport Human Factors) from the Human Factors Research Group at the University of Nottingham stated: “Our team brings significant expertise in conducting and analysing user studies to evaluate human-computer interactions. We are excited by our role as part of ServCity to generate theories, models and methods behind the user experience of the vehicle occupants. To this end, we will ensure that the design and development of the autonomous vehicle service is user-centred and truly meets consumer needs.”

Andrew Hart (Director) from SBD Automotive explains: “Robotaxis have the potential to fundamentally transform mobility for both consumers and the cities they operate in. The user experience lies at the heart of that transformation, as operators will need to carefully balance customer expectations with real-world technological constraints. SBD is proud to be a part of the ServCity project, bringing our decades of hands-on experience from working with car makers to help define and test different approaches to delivering a seamless Robotaxi experience.”

white nissan with cameras
white nissan with cameras