Saturday, April 01, 2017

Automotive LiDAR Testing Facility

Self Driving Track Days: While today's automotive LiDARs and Radars are still unable to provide a required 300-500m range, the autonomous driving algorithms need to be tested and ready for the future fully-capable LiDARs. The UK company offers a solution:

Babbacombe Model Village (, in Torbay, Devon, has joined forces with a driverless technology training startup in an innovative bid for grant funding from the UK Government.

The funding will be used to upgrade the road infrastructure at Babbacombe Model Village, to provide facilities to test driverless vehicle technology, as well as provide charging facilities for companies also developing small low-carbon vehicles.

“The biggest benefit”, says General Manager Simon Wills, “is that we can offer everything that the big test facilities can offer, but at 1/12th of the cost… that’s great for all the companies working on the technology, but it’s also great news for the taxpayer, and could really help us attract business from overseas.”

The Model Village, which has stood for more than half a century, boasts more than 400 buildings, and includes village and city settings, shopping areas and a variety of types of public transport in a small space.

Alex Lawrence-Berkeley, of driverless technology training company Self Driving Track Days (, said he was excited about the project’s potential. “What most people across the industry recognise is that developing, and more importantly testing, driverless vehicle technology is really complicated.”

“We regularly work with companies developing technologies used in driverless cars around the world through our vehicle perception training and events, and those companies are crying out for a lower-cost approach. The great thing about a lot of this technology is a considerable percentage of it can be developed and tested on scale-model vehicles.”

“UK government is investing heavily in this area, so we are really pleased to be able to help the taxpayer achieve the best possible value for money by taking a fresh approach.”

Update: This is (was) April's Fool post.


  1. I don't get it and would like to know. Does upgrade on road infrastructure in that village have anything to do with testing driverless cars? And what facilities are required for an effective testing.

    1. This is not a real village. It consists of scaled down copies of the UK historical buildings and their surroundings. I'd guess the roads in the village need to be connected together into a continuous network, so that the scaled down autonomous cars can drive across the village.

  2. I had the chance of visiting this development platform. The most impressive part is their emulator of miniature upset drivers with kids screaming on the back seat in the cars. The grandma emulator soon released 2.0, will include variable road crossing speed. All ASIL grade D.
    Good job, indeed!

  3. It's total fluff, no one is going to test scaled down autonomouse vehicles. It just doesn't reproduce the physical and animation environments and extra work to make the equipment fit.

  4. It's only a matter of reducing the light speed by 1/12th too
    Which is now possible, lot of papers about it.

  5. Brilliant! Made my day. Only read this 4 April so was initially fooled and only caught on when reading the comments. This is the perfect type of April 1 article just enough sense in the idea to think someone could be doing it.


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