Eight new projects developing driverless car technology have been awarded £20m in government funding.
The projects are the first to be funded from the government’s £100m 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.
Business secretary Sajid 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 £6bn science budget and is providing up to £20mn for these projects.”
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “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. 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.”
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.
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 connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) market develop further.