In 2015, the Spanish Traffic Department (DGT) published a legal framework allowing automated vehicle tests on public roads. Sparked by this publication, the Catalan government and the automotive industry (represented by CIAC) initiated Catalonia Living Lab.
As a first step, a catalogue of test locations was created. This catalogue was created based on a solid methodology, applying selection criteria resulting from in-depth market research including 46 interviews with potential clients. This catalogue generated interest and high expectations from various large vehicle manufacturers.
Motivated by this positive feedback, the Catalonia Living Lab initiative has been further elaborated, and now constitutes a public-private framework for the development and testing of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies. Its primary goal is to cover all CAV-related development and testing needs with Catalan (public) infrastructures and industry.
Catalonia Living Lab provides the main test environments required in the development process of connected and automated vehicles: from virtual simulation to laboratories, proving grounds and public roads. Catalonia Living Lab also provides a comprehensive service portfolio designed to support automotive industry and research institutes worldwide. Between all partners involved, it covers the complete development cycle of automated and connected vehicle functionalities: from concept finding and design to integration and final validation.
Compared to similar initiatives, Catalonia Living Lab clearly stands out in several key aspects:
- Whereas other initiatives only focus on specific areas, Catalonia Living Lab combines testing on public roads with the facilities and services of multiple independent proving grounds, laboratories and engineering companies; together forming a comprehensive, independent and holistic tool chain for the development and testing of connected and automated vehicle technologies. All under one roof.
- Unlike many other test beds, Catalonia Living Lab is created by and for automotive professionals. Its infrastructures, facilities and services are designed by automotive experts to serve international clients at any stage of their vehicle development process. Its facilities fit automotive needs, and its employees understand automotive clients. In contrast, the main objective of many other test beds is to investigate or solve local problems; for example, related to mobility, traffic management, congestion or pollution. Only in second place, are these facilities also offered to third parties for activities related to connected or automated vehicles. Furthermore, their operators often have no automotive background.
Within the Catalonia Living Lab framework, Applus+ IDIADA contributes a project in which it deploys CAV testing services on public roads.