A host of autonomous cars are set to converge on Bruntingthorpe, an airfield and proving ground located 40 miles east of Birmingham, in November.
It will be the first track day for autonomous cars on the continent, allowing manufacturers, software developers, and enthusiasts to come together and work on building the next generation of transport.
The event is backed by the government’s Innovate UK organization, which funds emerging technology projects in the country. The fund has backed another event at the Longcross Test Track, near Surrey.
“Driverless vehicle technology is a young discipline which pools expertise from different areas of mechanical, electrical and software engineering skills,” said Self-Driving Track Days co-founder, Alex Lawrence-Berkeley. “We’re keen to close the skills gaps between education and what industry is telling us is missing in the talent pool.”
Looking for startups focusing on autonomous cars
Innovate UK hopes that startups and universities will converge on the event, instead of it being all about large manufacturers like Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover, and Nissan testing their latest self-driving system.
RDM Group, one of the first firms Innovate UK backed, may bring its new pods to the event. It recently launched UK Autodrive, a £19 million ($24 million) project to integrate driverless pods into urban environments.
The British government is keen to grab as many automotive firms as it can away from other European countries, especially Germany, which does the lion’s share of automotive manufacturing. It should be noted that Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have not made plans to test vehicles in the U.K., focusing instead on Germany and the United States.
European countries are catching up with Britain’s burst into the scene. Germany announced public road testing earlier this year and France followed this week with a series of public initiatives. Spain and Italy have yet to launch similar projects.