ANR and AID Launch MOBILEX Challenge on Autonomous Vehicle Operation

The MOBILEX challenge, co-led by France’s ANR and AID, will provide funding for French academic and business consortia to research and develop technology for autonomous operation of vehicles in complex environments.

The Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR – National Research Agency), a funding organisation operated by the French government, supports new ideas and partnerships, in particular between academia and industry, in order to improve the competitiveness of French research in Europe and around the world. The Agence de l’Innovation de Défense (AID – Defence Innovation Agency) is a French government defence research organisation. The Agency provides funding for research projects with links to their areas of interest.

ANR and AID have launched a joint challenge for research into the autonomous operation of vehicles. Titled MOBILEX (MOBILité en environnement complEXe – Mobility in complex environments), the challenge seeks research into autonomous vehicle mobility in difficult environmental situations, involving terrains which may be unstructured, damaged or uneven.

Applications are welcome from French consortia involving at least one academic partner (a laboratory belonging to a research establishment or organisation) and one business partner. One of the partners must coordinate the project. Both the academic and the business partner must request funding.

The challenge is expected to enable the evaluation of different technological solutions, involving all functions and constraints that need to be considered to autonomously manage the local trajectory of a terrestrial vehicle in complex environments, such as damaged roads, forest roads, paths with obstacles, poorly structured paths etc. The MOBILEX technological component developed by each team will compete with components developed by other teams.

The MOBILEX challenge comprises three parts, each with a duration of around one year:

  • Part 1: First design and build of the MOBILEX component. This part of the challenge will test the component in environments of low complexity (eg easily detectible positive objects).
  • Part 2: Improvements and additions to the MOBILEX component and verification of working condition. This part of the challenge will test the component in environments of moderate complexity (eg presence of a variety of obstacles (positive and negative), successions of inclines and slopes), while including feared events (eg loss of GPS signal, interruptions, glare).
  • Part 3: Final improvements to the MOBILEX component and verification of working condition. This part of the challenge will test the component in environments of a complexity similar to the intended operational environment (eg a combination of obstacles with unclear traversability, inclines and slopes, dynamic remote operation, deteriorated environmental conditions). The technological components will be evaluated and graded in order to select the winner of the MOBILEX Challenge.

Each consortium will be provided with a robotic demonstrator to enable them to test the MOBILEX component. It is obligatory to only use the robotic demonstrator provided.

Funds of up to €450,000 may be requested for a project of a duration of 36-48 months. Example uses for funding include equipment costs and staffing costs for the project. ANR funding rules are set out in its Règlement financier (Financial Regulations).

Applications must be submitted by 17 May 2023 (13:00 Paris Time).

(This report was the subject of a ResearchConnect Newsflash.)