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Driving force

driving_force_-_pink.jpgWarwick has had a close relationship with the automotive industry since before it even opened. Lord Rootes, the chair
of the committee to set up the university, was the founder of the Rootes Group of car manufacturers.

He had a vision of bringing academia and industry closer together and would have been the University’s first Chancellor.
Unfortunately he died a few months before we opened, but his role in creating the University hasn’t been forgotten and many alumni will have fond memories of the halls of residence named in his memory.

This link with the automotive industry has been a constant factor during our first 50 years and going forward it remains stronger than ever. These links were recently illustrated by the announcement that Warwick will be a key partner in the
new National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC), which will be built on campus near University House.


In March 2015 Ratan N. Tata (Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons), Cyrus P. Mistry (Chairman of Tata Group) and Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, the Chairman and Founder of WMG, unveiled the foundation stone for the new Centre on campus.

At the event Mr Mistry, said, “This unique resource will provide state-of-the- art engineering and technology labs that will greatly enhance the ability of academia and industry to work side by side on leading-edge research to deliver exciting, new, innovative products and meet the widely held ambition to deliver automotive technology and products that will be smarter, lighter, and greener. The Tata group shares these objectives to achieve greater sustainability, and is delighted to support their realisation.”

NAIC will be the largest automotive research centre of its kind in Europe. It will help to deliver breakthrough technologies in areas such as carbon reduction, smart and connected vehicles and advanced propulsion systems including internal combustion engines, hybrid and electric systems. This project will be a unique resource which will provide an environment to foster collaboration, cohesion and cross-fertilisation of knowledge.

driving forceJaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors, and WMG have made an investment of £150m in NAIC’s capital building and research activities, with £30m capital costs funded by the Government’s Higher Education Funding Council for England. The complex will provide space for 1,000 engineers, designers and researchers to work together, from apprentices to senior managers. Teaching facilities will support the education of tomorrow’s engineers with the Centre being open to students from the WMG Academies for Young NAIC will be an engine for economic growth, with wide economic benefit and sustained growth Engineers to work on real-world applications.

Most excitingly, the high-tech research facilities will include a design and simulation space creating innovative automotive solutions such as an advanced propulsion research laboratory which will address the national requirement to position the UK as the leading innovator in advanced propulsion systems.

The simulator will be the world’s first immersive, simulated environment for smart and connected vehicles which includes full emulation of wireless communications. It will be a centrepiece of NAIC’s Virtual Reality Centre and will provide a unique platform for innovation and technology creation. The simulator will be a key facility for researchers working on autonomous, smart and connected vehicles.

The simulator environment will be adaptive and enable true-to-life evaluation incorporating user, systems and cyber-physical understanding:

  • Vehicle agnostic, adaptive system
  • Multi-sensory environment enhanced with high-definition visualisation and 3D surround sound
  • Driver eye-tracking technology
  • Infotainment and communication simulation
  • High performance computing and data storage
  • Remote sensing technologies.

This scalable, configurable, collaborative research platform will significantly advance the creation and usability of autonomous systems and provides the automotive industry with cutting-edge facilities for virtual whole-system level design, validation, verification and testing for sensors, new technology and system integration.

A unique feature of the NAIC simulator will be the ability to drive in any vehicle (in production or prototype), link it up through an umbilical connection and drive it through the simulated environment to obtain valuable data for system verification within a highly controlled and safe environment.

There will be close working on collaborative research projects with the research councils and the department of Business Innovation and Skills. Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Motors will also use NAIC to take forward autonomous vehicles research through a £19m Autodrive UK project.

At the launch event Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya summed up the vision for NAIC:

The automotive industry in the UK has seen a recent resurgence, but for the UK to remain internationally competitive we must create urgently a critical mass in research excellence. Our vision is to create the National Automotive Innovation Centre where we link people, research and world-leading infrastructure to create and develop novel technologies.

NAIC will be an ‘engine’ for economic growth, with wide economic benefit, and sustained growth from the creation of world-leading technologies. It will enable academic and industry teams to work together in state-of-the-art buildings, with tailored equipment and digital solutions to create and integrate breakthrough technologies with a whole-system approach crossing multiple disciplines.”

Fly-through visualisation of the NAIC building:

You can find out more about the National Automotive Innovation Centre by visiting: warwick.ac.uk/naic