Britain’s driverless cars prospect receives £20m funding boost

Eight R&D projects will share £20m of Government funding to help them develop the next generation of autonomous vehicles, Business Secretary Sajid Javid has announced.

The projects are the first to be funded from the Government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund. The plans range from developing autonomous shuttles for visually-impaired passengers, to improving the way driverless vehicles are tested.

In a statement announcing the funding, the Government said: “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 £900 billion per year globally by 2025.”

Trials to test driverless cars on the streets are currently being worked on in Bristol, Coventry and Milton Keynes, and Greenwich.

Javid said: “Our cars of the future will be equipped with the technologies that will make getting from A to B safer, faster, and cleaner. They will alert drivers of accidents ahead and be able to receive information from their surroundings about hazards, increasing the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

“Britain is a world-leader in research and development in such innovative technologies which improve lives and create opportunity for all. That is why this government has protected the £6 billion science budget and is providing up to £20 million for these projects.”

The projects

All of the projects have received financial backing from industry in addition to government funding, and are supported by leading automotive and engineering firms, including Jaguar Land Rover, Siemens, Vodafone Group, Airbus and Bosch.

Edie reported on one of the successful projects last week, which will see Heathrow Airport shuttle pods used as an engineering foundation for the development of zero-carbon, fully autonomous, battery-operated carrier pods acting as shuttles on the streets of Greenwich.

The existing pods in action

Other projects aims to create the world’s most advanced environment for testing autonomous vehicles and to find a way to predict safety risks based on analytics.

One project known as MOVE-UK will be focused on accelerating the development, market readiness and deployment of automated driving systems. It has £5.5m funding, with £3.4m from BIS and has industry partners including Bosch and Jaguar Land Rover.

Tesla founder Elon Musk recently said that driverless cars could be a widespread reality in just two years time.

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie