Nick Hill

Industrial Strategy: Government announces £22m fund to support self-driving technology

The government is allocating £22.4m of Industrial Strategy funding to help a total of 22 projects develop self-driving vehicle technology.

Among these projects is the development of off-road self-driving vehicles that will operate in some of the most extreme environments and could significantly boost productivity in the construction and mining industries.

Automotive Minister Richard Harrington announced that these 22 projects will be supported through the latest round of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) funding, including projects from companies such as Jaguar Land Rover and Caterpillar.

The £22.4m of government funding will also be used on projects to develop technology that will allow self-driving vehicles to function in situations where weather visibility is so poor human drivers would struggle to navigate, while other projects will look to trial autonomous ‘Mobility as a Service’ (Maas) services in London, Cambridge and Didcot.

The funding builds on the government’s Industrial Strategy commitment to the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, which includes a commitment to have fully self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2021.

Automotive Minister Richard Harrington said: “Through these competitions, we are offering innovative businesses support to take their projects to the next level and help them achieve commercial success. The projects that we are nurturing mean that we are a step closer to securing our place as a world leader in self-driving vehicles.

“This significant investment is a mark of the innovation that is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy. The development of new technologies is a cornerstone of the UK’s world-class science and research and will ensure that we deliver a Britain fit for the future by creating jobs and the skills needed to succeed.”

Other projects include looking into solving drivers’ parking woes with the consortia Parkopedia Limited, using government funding to develop autonomous valet parking systems (AVP) which will allow drivers to leave their car at their final destination and the car will park itself.

In addition, T-CABS will use its funding to build a fleet of 15 seat pods which will be used to demonstrate a fare paying public transport service in Cambridge.

These investments mean the UK Government is now supporting 73 connected and autonomous vehicle R&D projects; a portfolio worth around £180m.

Ruth McKernan, Innovate UK chief executive, said: “The quality and commercial potential of these successful projects demonstrate how UK businesses are developing pioneering connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. The impact will benefit our thriving automotive industry and the economy as a whole.”

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