Driverless cars to be developed in Shannon


THE MID WEST region will soon be leading the way towards driverless cars as one of the world’s biggest motor manufacturers sets up a base on the Shannon Free Zone.

Jaguar/Land Rover, which is owned by the Indian car manufacturing giant Tata, has already established a research and development facility in Shannon with the creation of 30 jobs.

Based at Universal House on the entrance to the Free Zone, Jaguar/Land Rover has employed a team of local developers who have specialised knowledge of automotive projects. The firm expects to fill all 30 positions in the research and development unit over the coming months.

Along with General Motors (GM), based in Dooradoyle, the region now hosts two of the biggest global automotive brands who are conducting research and development into self-drive autonomous cars.

It is understood that Jaguar/Land Rover will continue their software development for the wider global brands from its new Shannon base as well as at its three other UK based research facilities.

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Tata Motors, Jaguar/Land Rover’s Mumbai-based owners, manufacture cars, trucks, vans, coaches, buses, sports cars, construction equipment and military vehicles and are expanding into the luxury brand market.

They have a number of plants in India as well as in Argentina, South Africa, the UK and Thailand and additional research facilities in South Korea, Great Britain and Spain.

The new Shannon operation is expected to expand its workforce as research intensifies into the latest developments in driverless technology.

With all the leading motor manufacturers planning to make driverless cars, there are wide variations in the kind of vehicles being tested. However, they all have technology fitted that allows them to navigate and be aware of their environment without the need for a human driver.

This means each vehicle is fitted with a GPS unit, an internal navigation system and sensors including a laser rangefinder, radar, and video. Sensor data allows them to create a 3D image of their environment.

The majority of self-driving cars have “deliberate architecture” installed – meaning they are capable of making intelligent decisions, even working out the best route to  a destination.

Once the decision is made the journey is dissected into commands, which are fed into devices called actuators which control the steering, braking and throttle.

The car’s internal map will include the current and predicted static locations of buildings, traffic lights and stop signs. It will also be able to identify moving objects such as other cars and pedestrians.

The arrival of Jaguar/Land Rover comes after the Limerick Post revealed last week that Sports Data and Technology firm, Stats is to establish its new European base in Limerick with the creation of up to 50 jobs.

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