Home » Major boost for UK’s self-driving vehicle ambitions

Major boost for UK’s self-driving vehicle ambitions

by Sion Geschwindt

The world’s first self-driving bus service is set to launch in Edinburgh this spring, after it was awarded a share of £81m in joint UK government and industry funding.

The pilot project, known as CAVForth, consists of a fleet of five fully autonomous buses that will run a 14-mile route in Edinburgh and carry up to 10,000 passengers per week. The buses will be operating at AV Level 4, meaning they have a trained safety driver onboard, but the driver will not be expected to touch the controls whilst the vehicle is in autonomous mode.

CAVForth is one of seven successful self-driving vehicle projects from around the UK, including autonomous lorries in Sunderland, shuttles in Belfast and taxis in Cambridge. According to the government, the projects represent the most advanced set of commercial, self-driving passenger and freight operations anywhere in the world.

The grants are part of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Connected and Automated Mobility programme, which was established in 2015 to advance the government’s ambitions for commercial-scale self-driving transport services by 2025.

Business Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “In just a few years’ time, the business of self-driving vehicles could add tens of billions to our economy and create tens of thousands of jobs across the UK. This is a massive opportunity to drive forward our priority to grow the economy, which we are determined to seize.”

Forecasts predict that by 2035, 40% of new UK car sales will have self-driving capabilities, with a total market value for connected and automated mobility worth £41.7bn. This could create nearly 40,000 skilled jobs in connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology.

Innovate UK executive director for Net Zero, Mike Biddle, added: “The Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) sector is of crucial importance to the UK, with the potential to deliver safer, cleaner and more efficient transport systems across a wide range of settings.

“This latest, multi-year round of government’s Commercialising CAM funds builds on the success of previous collaborative R&D programme, stimulating innovation to ensure the UK is at the forefront of the transition towards the commercialisation of self-driving services.”

Read next: Germany’s Nurburgring to get €11m digital upgrade

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