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What to do with an old mine? Turn it into a self-driving test track

Image of BMW's new self-driving test site in Sokolov

The new self-driving test site

28th July 2023

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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BMW has launched a new test site in Sokolov, Czechia, aimed at developing self-driving and self-parking.

The German car maker says the 300-million euro Future Mobility Development Center (FMDC) will play a key role in the company’s development of automated driving.

The former mine site has been transformed into an innovation hub employing more than 100 skilled workers. 

The terrain offers the necessary real-world conditions for the testing of highly and fully automated driving and parking, aimed at supplementing the current virtual simulation of driving situations. 

Through a combination of virtual simulation and real-world testing, BMW says it plans to “meet the highest safety requirements of its customers”. 

The FMDC in Sokolov rounds out BMW’s existing group of test sites in Aschheim, near Munich; Miramas, in France; and Arjeplog, in Sweden.

“With our new FMDC, we have created a one-of-a-kind test site, designed exclusively for the highly demanding testing of automated driving and parking up to level 4,” says BMW development board member Frank Weber.

“On 600 hectares of land, we test all possible driving conditions with maximum flexibility and tremendous efficiency – city, countryside, freeway, as well as automated parking. 

“The special thing? We can run our test modules one after the other without stopping. 

“This makes our testing as realistic, reliable and customer-oriented as possible.”

“Together with our partners, we were able to develop a former surface mine site here in Sokolov into a modern and efficient test site and create new, attractive jobs,” says BMW people and real estate board member Ilka Horstmeier.

The FMDC and its charging infrastructure are supplied with 100% green electricity from renewable energy sources. 

The site is also equipped with a water management system that collects rainwater and uses it for track irrigation. 

Around 2.2-million cubic metres of soil previously excavated by nearby mining were used to build the site. 

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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