The UK Government has launched a £40m competition to kick-start the roll out of commercial self-driving vehicles from 2025.
Announced today by investment minister Lord Grimstone, the ‘Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility’ will provide grants to help increase the UK’s reputation as an industry world leader.
Out of the total funding, £1.5m will be used by the government to research the feasibility of self-driving vehicles as public transport.
“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,” said Lord Grimstone.
Department for Transport (DfT) figures estimate the self-driving automotive industry’s contribution to the UK economy could be as up as £42bn and 38,000 new skilled jobs by 2035.
The announcement comes a month after the UK Government updated the Highway Code, allowing drivers to watch films while at the wheel of a driverless car, City A.M. reported.
Motorists will not be responsible for accident as liability will fall onto insurance companies.
“Recent regulatory reforms have helped Britain establish itself as a leader in the rollout out of self-driving passenger vehicles, and today’s announcement is a significant step towards self-driving public transport and goods delivery services becoming a reality,” added Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) chief executive Mike Hawes.
“This new funding competition will help drive innovation and, potentially, private investment in UK automotive, ensuring cutting-edge self-driving technology finds a clearer path to UK roads.”
According to automotive analyst Daniel Clarke, even though the UK cannot compete with automatic vehicle (AV) giants such as the US or China but it can carve a market niche.
“An AV operating in a very strict and predictable pattern might be more achievable by a home-grown AV startup versus versus something like a level 4 / 5 self-driving private vehicle, which will see a much wider variety of driving environments,” he told City A.M.
“AV development is very location-dependent so, while obviously, the UK cannot compete with US/China in a development scale, UK developers are really the only players developing AVs for UK roads,” he told City A.M.