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GoMentum Station: Test Driving the Automated Vehicle Future
Feb 02, 2021 | By Jane Maynard, Digital Marketing Manager

Testing autonomous vehicles (AV) and advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features under development is important for advancing traffic safety and increasing mobility options.

AutonomouStuff vehicle equipped with Velodyne Lidar's Ultra Puck sensor at the GoMentum autonomous vehicle testing facility
AutonomouStuff vehicle equipped with Velodyne Lidar’s Ultra Puck sensor at the GoMentum autonomous vehicle testing facility

GoMentum Station is the nation’s largest dedicated secure testing facility for connected and automated vehicle technology. The facility, located 35 miles from San Francisco in Concord, Calif., is owned and operated by AAA Northern California. AAA Northern California operates the proving ground to assist members and the public in adapting to the fast-changing mobility landscape, while continuing to focus on roadway safety.

Velodyne has used GoMentum Station to test Vella, our breakthrough software for ADAS based on a range of our sensors, including the solid-state Velarray H800 and surround-view Ultra Puck. Proprietary testing has indicated superiority of the Vella solution for ADAS where a traditional camera and radar system failed. Test results are documented in a Velodyne white paper on how the Vella solution can improve Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking (PAEB). 

Velodyne Lidar testing Ultra Puck and Velarray sensors paired with Vella software at the GoMentum Station
Velodyne Lidar testing Ultra Puck and Velarray sensors paired with Vella software at the GoMentum Station

To learn about GoMentum Station and how it is helping to shape the next generation of transportation, we connected with Atul Acharya, their Director of Autonomous Vehicles Strategy & Operations.

Q: Would you please introduce GoMentum Station and your mission to our readers?

Atul: GoMentum Station is a 2,100-acre closed-course test and research facility for connected and automated vehicles located in the Bay Area. Our customers use GoMentum Station to test their highly automated and connected vehicles in a variety of environments to ensure the safety of their technology. That said, it is much more than a test track. It is a comprehensive ecosystem bringing together the public and private sectors to collaborate on testing and deployment of technologies in various programs to benefit communities in the Bay Area and beyond.   

Q: Why did AAA Northern California decide to be involved in an automated vehicle testing facility?

Atul: AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah was founded more than 100 years ago with a commitment to helping the motoring public travel safely on our roads. We remain committed to that vision today. With 94 percent of the motor vehicle crashes related to human error, we believe ADAS and AV technology have the potential to save millions of lives. However, we need to ensure the technology is tested and proven safe before it is deployed on public roads.

AutonomouStuff vehicle equipped with Velodyne Lidar's Ultra Puck sensor at the GoMentum Station, which is made up of 19 miles of roadway including overpasses, as pictured here, intersections, urban and rural environments, and more.
AutonomouStuff vehicle equipped with Velodyne Lidar’s Ultra Puck sensor at the GoMentum Station, which is made up of 19 miles of roadway including overpasses, as pictured here, intersections, urban and rural environments, and more.

Q: Can you share with us details on your track features and how they lend themselves to AV and ADAS testing?

Atul: At GoMentum Station we want to replicate a real-world environment in a safe and private setting where pedestrians, other drivers and the general public are not at risk. We have over 19 miles of roadways available with features including:

  • Urban and rural environments with a total of 48 intersections 
  • Underpasses, over­passes, tunnels and railroad tracks
  • Multiple lane types including one-way, two-way, merge and round-about
  • Shared and separated bike lanes
  • Remotely programma­ble traffic signals with V2X capabilities
  • Pedestrian, bicycle, animal and vehicle targets for scenario-based testing, with high-precision testing equipment
  • Full RTK (real-time kinetic)-corrected GPS service throughout the site for 2cm accuracy of ground truth
  • Digital twin simulator of various testing zones at GoMentum, enabling customers to test virtually and validate in the real world
Testing Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking (PAEB) with Velodyne Lidar's Ultra Puck lidar sensor and Vella software at the GoMentum Station
Testing Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking (PAEB) with Velodyne Lidar’s Ultra Puck lidar sensor and Vella software at the GoMentum Station

Q: Why is it important for automated vehicle technology leaders like Velodyne to be involved in testing at GoMentum Station?

Atul: By testing at GoMentum Station, technology leaders like Velodyne not only get immediate access to a world-class facility, but also engage meaningfully with other industry leaders and public agencies. Some of the research at GoMentum Station includes U.S. Department of Transportation funded projects for demonstrating the benefits of automated driving systems (ADS) via deployments of AV shuttles at first- and last-mile transit needs; reducing congestion on highways via on-demand mobility services; and testing connected vehicles. With our parent organization, the AAA National Office, we worked to evaluate the safety of ADAS-equipped vehicles, a project that is highly relevant for vehicles on the streets today. 

Similarly, we at GoMentum Station have taken a lead on researching automated vehicle safety metrics. These projects involve multiple partners, and we welcome participation from technology leaders like Velodyne who are pioneering advances in transportation safety.

Testing vehicle equipped with Velodyne Lidar's Velarray solid state lidar sensor, ideal for ADAS applications, on the GoMentum Station testing course
Testing vehicle equipped with Velodyne Lidar’s Velarray solid state lidar sensor, ideal for ADAS applications, on the GoMentum Station testing course

Q: GoMentum’s partners include a number of organizations from outside the United States. How is this collaboration helping to promote a greater understanding of emerging automated vehicle technologies worldwide?

Atul: Yes, we have a variety of partners ranging from component makers to traditional OEMs to full AV stack developers from all over the globe. In addition, we collaborate with leading academic and research institutions like the University of Berkeley and University of Waterloo. On policy initiatives, we partner with organizations like RAND and the World Economic Forum who work on and set the strategic policy agenda for governments at all levels, local, state and federal. We are also engaged with various automotive standards setting bodies, such as the SAE and UL. 

By collaborating with these forward-thinking and innovative organizations, we’re giving our Members a voice, engaging in projects relating to transportation safety, safety metrics, standardizing AV safety, enabling greater transparency on AV policy initiatives, public demonstrations of ADS and the like. These projects give us a greater understanding of AV deployments in several geographic regions, policy initiatives at state and international level, and technology adoption. Many international rules and requirements, such as the EuroNCAP, have a strong influence on domestic initiatives, hence it is important to be connected with these efforts.  

AutonomouStuff vehicle equipped with Velodyne Lidar's Ultra Puck sensor at the GoMentum Station
AutonomouStuff vehicle equipped with Velodyne Lidar’s Ultra Puck sensor at the GoMentum Station

Q: Based on your experience with AV and ADAS testing, where is roadway transportation headed and how will these changes impact safety and mobility?

Atul: All of our initiatives are focused on transportation safety and enhanced mobility. We see opportunity in providing greater mobility access for all – including seniors, children, economically disadvantaged and people with disabilities. We are engaged in projects on safety quantification and standardization, especially when it comes to testing automated vehicles, which means better overall safety when these highly automated vehicles are tested and eventually deployed. We are also seeing a greater focus on safety in partial automation (i.e., ADAS equipped vehicles) and education efforts to share the benefits of the technology to our Members and consumers.

All of these initiatives mean we, together in the GoMentum Station ecosystem, are working towards a more safe transportation network and safer automated vehicles for the community at-large.


For more information on GoMentum Station and the mobility research conducted there, visit their website.

About Velodyne Lidar

Velodyne Lidar (Nasdaq: VLDR, VLDRW) ushered in a new era of autonomous technology with the invention of real-time surround view lidar sensors. Velodyne, the global leader in lidar, is known for its broad portfolio of breakthrough lidar technologies. Velodyne’s revolutionary sensor and software solutions provide flexibility, quality and performance to meet the needs of a wide range of industries, including autonomous vehicles, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), smart cities and security. Through continuous innovation, Velodyne strives to transform lives and communities by advancing safer mobility for all.

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