Aberystwyth University is constructing a large-scale robotic testbed for off-road autonomous vehicles and last-mile delivery services.

The Aberystwyth Natural Terrain for Unconstrained Robotics acronym — ANTUR, is Welsh for ‘adventure.’ It will cover 500 hectares and contain 11.5 kilometres of tracks.

The site will include grassland, peat bog, rocks and mud and will allow vehicles to travel to heights of up to 600 metres above sea level.

Aberystwyth Autonomous
The test site in Brignant, near Pwllpeiran

Once constructed, the facility will be used to test land and air-based autonomous vehicles developed by Aberystwyth University. This includes large four and six-wheel drive vehicles and autonomous drones.

The facility will also be available to other research institutions to test their systems in real operational conditions.

Dr Frédéric Labrosse from Aberystwyth University’s Computer Science Department said:

Autonomous driving is one of the most exciting technology innovations of recent years and can be used in many areas where it is either not safe to send human drivers or using automated systems can free time for human drivers.

We have been testing our algorithms and robots in the hills behind Aberystwyth for quite a while now and showing how robust our systems are, but ANTUR will create many new possibilities such as allowing live streaming of data and visualisations, as well as offer a level of comfort we never had before thanks to the workshops in the hills.

Construction on the first stage of this project will be completed by April 2023. The second stage, which includes building a large indoor test facility, is scheduled to be completed by 2024.

The facilities are being funded by a 180,000 GBP grant from the Higher Education Research Council.


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