The Autumn Statement included an additional £9 million worth of funding for a driverless car pilot backed by carmakers and UK authorities, which will start in January.
Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that Greenwich, South East London, Milton Keynes, Coventry and Bristol had been given the green light, and £19 million worth of funding, to test out driverless cars following a competition run by government backed technology body, Innovate UK.
The competition is an attempt to establish the UK as the global hub for autonomous car research and development. It initially offered a £10 million pot for the winning projects.
The UK car industry will be competing with the likes of Google, who announced it is investing in autonomous technology this year. Similarly in China, search engine giant Baidu partnered with BMW to test driverless cars in Beijing and Shanghai.
Innovate UK encouraged top carmakers to get involved with local authorities to partner up for the initiative to share expertise with local authorities. The winners include leading carmakers like Ford and Jaguar Land Rover, insurance companies like AXA and security firms who will work with their partnered cities, to test the feasibility of putting driverless cars on UK roads.
Nick Jones, lead technologist at Innovate UK, said: “Cars that drive themselves would represent the most significant transformation in road travel since the introduction of the internal combustion engine and at Innovate UK, we want to help the UK to lead the world in making that happen."
The pilots will test legal, safety and regulation issues as well as the mechanical and technological obstacles an autonomous car poses.
The three winning projects:
Milton Keynes and Coventry’s UK Autodrive
The two cities will work together to demonstrate driverless cars for the road as well as lightweight self-driving pods designed for pedestrianised spaces. It will work with Jaguar Land Rover, Tata, Ford, car services firm RDM, car security specialist Thales (UK), insurance group AXA, law firm Wragge-Lawrence-Graham, Oxford University, Cambridge University, the Open University, and the new government-funded Transport Systems Catapult. Engineering consulting group Arup devised the programme and will provide programme management and technical co-ordination skills.
Greenwich, London’s GATEway project.
Lead by the Transport Research Laboratory it will cover London roads. Testing will include anautomated electric shuttle, tele-operated driving and a simulated 3D model of the Greenwich peninsula. It hopes the project will attract international manufacturers to the UK.
Bristol’s project intends to investigate the legal and insurance aspects of driverless cars and testing public reaction to driverless cars.
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Picture: ©Jaguar Land Rover