Driverless car technology gets £20m boost

Posted on 1 Feb 2016 by Callum Bentley

Eight new projects have been awarded £20 million in funding to research and develop enhanced communication between vehicles and roadside infrastructure or urban information systems.

The projects are the first to be funded from the Government’s £100 million Intelligent Mobility Fund.

They range from developing autonomous shuttles to carry visually-impaired passengers using advanced sensors and control systems, to new simulation trials for autonomous pods to increase uptake and improve real-world trials.

Trials to test driverless cars on the streets are currently being worked on in Bristol, Coventry, Milton Keynes and Greenwich. Autonomous vehicles are also being used in Heathrow to shuttle passengers, although these are currently on designated tracks.

The UK has a rich fabric of scientists and engineers who have established the UK as pioneers in the research and development of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Today’s funding will help strengthen the UK as a global centre for the fast-growing intelligent mobility market, estimated to be worth £900bn a year globally by 2025.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin commented: “These projects will help profoundly change the way we travel within years, transforming our roads by making travel a simpler experience for drivers, reducing accidents and helping traffic flow more smoothly.

The driverless vehicles that will be tested in London will look different to the previous demonstration model.
The driverless vehicles that will be tested in London will look different to the previous demonstration model.

“They will also bring great benefits to our society and the wider economy by opening up new routes for global investment.

“This is a landmark moment and will allow Britain to lead the way in the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles.”

Roland Meister, head of Transport at Innovate UK, said: “The UK is rapidly becoming one of the best places in the world for companies to develop their Intelligent Mobility business.

“Driven by our work with the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles this competition has connected together the UK’s fantastic automotive industry, the research base, the insurance sector, public authorities with high growth businesses working in human behavioural science, telematics, information technology, communications, simulation, advanced sensor systems and machine learning.

“Through the funding and connections Innovate UK provides we are getting Intelligent Mobility ideas off the drawing board and into our lives, making us more productive, creating jobs, growth and exports.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive, SMMT.
Mike Hawes, chief executive, SMMT.

Chief executive of SMMT, Mike Hawes added: “Britain is uniquely placed to become a global leader in connected and autonomous vehicle development, technology that has the potential to generate around £51bn for the UK economy, save 2,500 lives and generate 320,000 jobs.

“Today’s first allocation of the Government’s funding pledge, which will be matched by industry, is an important first step on the road to realising that opportunity.”

All the projects have received financial backing from industry in addition to government funding, and are backed by leading automotive businesses, engineering firms, IT specialists, universities and local authorities.

The UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment (UK CITE) project – which the Business Secretary will visit today – includes Horiba Mira; Jaguar Land Rover; Siemens, and Vodafone Group among others. He will also see demonstrations and simulations of the Flourish and Move UK projects.

In addition to the eight collaborative R&D projects, the Business Secretary also announced 14 feasibility studies to identify where additional data could help the UK CAV market develop further.