UK government pushes forward with driverless vehicles program
UK government pushes forward with driverless vehicles program

UK government pushes forward with driverless vehicles program

The UK government has announced a cash injection for a consortium aiming to get driverless cars on our roads by 2019.

Since announcing its £100 million Intelligent Mobility Fund, a scheme to develop connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV), the UK government has shown significant willingness to assist in the push to get driverless cars onto Britain’s roads.

The first trials of driverless car technology have already taken place on UK streets, with further projects in Greenwich and Milton Keynes well underway.

Now, a new cash injection of £12.8 million has been pumped into another scheme to get driverless cars on UK roads by 2019, in a programme of investment as part of the government’s modern industrial strategy that will eventually cost £23 million.

This scheme will be led by the StreetWise project, a consortium that consists of Cambridge-based start-up FiveAI, which uses artificial intelligence software to run driverless vehicles, the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), Oxford University, Transport for London and the insurer Direct Line.

These organizations were chosen as part of CAV2, the second part of the government’s connected and autonomous vehicle competition, to test the technology in London.

Steve Boland, CEO of FiveAI, said that, with the funding, “We can look to become a technology leader and catch up with countries such as the US, Germany and Sweden that have already staked their claim in the market.”

In addition to developing a fully driverless transport system, the consortium plans to demonstrate how citizens could order automated rides using a smartphone app, as well as showcase insurance and safety protocols, during the third quarter of 2019.

Boland added that the trial in South London targets commuters who drive to work and would use roughly 10 electric cars. According to The Times, the trial will test a “personal mobility service” to cut congestion and pollution, improve safety and free up parking spaces.

Read more: Driverless cars a ‘big step forward’ for smarter travel

Further investment in driverless and AI

Rob Wallis, CEO at TRL, noted that, “We continue to see a major industry shift towards automation, connectivity and electrification of vehicles, and the use of shared mobility schemes. Such market disruption is transforming the way people will travel, especially in cities, and it is vital that the UK remains at the forefront of this development.

“TRL believes the UK Government’s CAV ambitions, in partnership with British businesses, remains critical in ensuring the UK plays its role as a major global innovator within this fast-changing market.”

The announcement coincides with a speech made at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders by business secretary Greg Clark at the end of last week. Mr Clark confirmed that, with the driverless car market predicted to be worth £63 billion by 2035, the government will be investing a further £38 million in new collaborative research and development projects.

He added it would be working with industry partners to develop the next generation of AI and control systems need to “ensure the UK is at the forefront of the driverless cars revolution.”

Read more: AECOM launches £4.2 million driverless car trial