Faraday statue at the IET in London

Neil Kennett reviews the CAM Innovators self-driving industry event in London, March 2022

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Self-driving event report #1 2022: CAM Innovators living the future mobility dream

As my first industry do in London for two years, the Zenzic Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) Innovators event 2022 was always going to be memorable. Actually, it was much better than that. It was a fantastic day packed with astute analysis and exciting announcements about self-driving in the UK.

It was also a reminder of the shared vision – the belief that we’re on the cusp of something momentous, that this technology can deliver seismic safety and societal benefits. And this is no pipedream. Thanks to a lot of hard work over many years by an array of seriously talented people, there’s a detailed Roadmap of exactly how we’ll get there.

Let’s talk self-driving

For starters, we couldn’t have wished for a more impressive venue – The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on The Embankment, near Waterloo Bridge. Passing the statue of Michael Faraday, the father of electromagnetism, I bumped into a former colleague before I’d even reached the front door. How nice to see Tom Flisher of Thatcham – a real live human – after all the remote communications of the pandemic.

Hands up, I missed the morning sessions on cyber resilience, vehicle to everything (V2X) and the Interoperable Simulation project. Catching the fast train in to London to attend a real world event is, admittedly, more time consuming and expensive than clicking into a Teams meeting.

We’ll look at the Interoperable Simulation project in more detail another day as it’s a prime example of joined-up thinking, designed to enable seamless testing across the CAM Testbed UK facilities.

The main reason for attending, I thought, was to hear about the latest six UK-based companies selected for Zenzic’s CAM Scale-Up Programme – a business accelerator for almost ready-for-market products and services that can “meet required safety standards and operate in real-world environments”. There’s also the small matter of sharing £500,000 of government funding.

Of the six winners announced in October 2021, four are London-based: geolocation solution provider Albora; Intelligent CCTV designer Exeros; sensor fusion system developer Grayscale AI; and insurance claims visualiser Xtract 360. The other two are: Cambridge-based vulnerable road user safety specialist R4DAR; and Cardiff-based real-time movement experts Route Konnect.

Each will be supported by the UK government – via the Department for Transport’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) – and innovation platform Plug and Play. They’ll get time at the testbeds, benefit from introductions to corporate partners (including Honda, Thales and Vodafone), and gain access to a global network investor platform. Watch this space for in-depth profiles.

The curious among you will have noted the “I thought” a couple of paragraphs ago. Of course, hearing from these exceptional innovators was great, but the best was yet to come.

Wired editor and futurist Jeremy White talks self-driving at the CAM Innovators event 2022
Wired editor and futurist Jeremy White talks self-driving at the CAM Innovators event 2022

Following an entertaining whip through automotive history with Wired editor and futurist Jeremy White – who urged the self-driving industry to “hurry up!” and make connected and automated mobility a reality – we adjourned to the Haslett & Flowers room for networking drinks.

And that’s where the magic happened: Talking shop and shooting the breeze with people I’d just met, connected with on Linkedin, interviewed on Zoom, been on mute with for hours. That’s where you hear the backstories and inspirations, discover obscure but pertinent bits of information, and see early signs of the next big things.

A maelstrom of tech wizards and engineers, CEOs and interns, the odd safety campaigner and motoring hack, most cautious about over-promising but overwhelmingly excited and optimistic about the fast-approaching road transport revolution.

That’s what self-driving industry events are all about. That’s what we’ve been missing.

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Author: Neil Kennett

Neil is MD of Featurebank Ltd. He launched Carsofthefuture.co.uk in 2019.