The UK government has made £40m in funding available to accelerate the development of commercial autonomous vehicles (AVs).
A competition called “Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility” is encouraging applications for grants to help kick-start the provision of self-driving services across Britain from 2025.
It’s hoped that the project will help bring together companies and investors so sustainable business models can be rolled out nationally and exported globally.
According to the government statement which announced details of the competition, the type of self-driving vehicles that would be considered for grants “include delivery vans, passenger buses, shuttles and pods, as well as vehicles that move people and luggage at airports and containers at shipping ports.”
£1.5m will be set aside to study and explore self-driving vehicles as a means of public transport that could provide an alternative to mass transit systems.
Lord Grimstone, UK minister for investment, said: “Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise people’s lives, whether it’s by helping to better connect people who rely on public transport with jobs, local shops, and vital services, or by making it easier for those who have mobility issues to order and access services conveniently.
“This funding will help unlock the incredible potential of this new and growing industry, building on the continued development of self-driving technology, attracting investment and helping make our transport cleaner, safer and more efficient.”
The government estimates that driverless tech could add £42bn to the nation’s economy by 2035, potentially creating 38,000 new skilled jobs.
Trudy Harrison, the transport minister, added: “We know that self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise the way we travel, making our future journeys cleaner, easier and more reliable. But our absolute priority is harnessing the technology to improve road safety.
“With around 88pc of road collisions currently caused by human error, this funding will drive the introduction of new technology to improve travel for all, while boosting economic growth and highly skilled jobs across the nation.”
In April, proposed changes to the Highway Code were seen as paving the way for the development of a full legal framework for self-driving vehicles.
In the same month, the country’s first trials of full-size autonomous buses on public roads got underway in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh.
Image: Transport for London’s GATEway self-driving trial (credit: TfL)
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