The UK government has announced the first set of winners of the second round of its connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) competition, CAV2, with projects set to receive a share of up to £31m (US$38.8m), matched by funding from industry.
A total of 24 projects have demonstrated clear commercial value and identified technical solutions for CAV technology, including how these vehicles will work within the UK transport system. Further successful projects from this competition round will be announced in the near future. Funding is divided into four streams, and ideas include projects that will: use car and pod platooning to transport passengers from Stockport train station to Manchester Airport; create vehicles capable of driving in a range of road environments; and technology that could make any car operate autonomously.
Other CAV2 projects awarded funding include: the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to explore systems for costing and managing Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS); a Cambridge autonomous bus system feasibility study; city-compatible commercial automated ride sharing; and connected autonomous sensing service delivery vehicles.
The announcement of CAV2 winners builds on the £20m (US$25m) allocated to projects in the first competition, CAV1, and the further £19m (US$23.8m) invested by the government in 2016, in three driverless car trials in Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry.
The CAV2 competition includes funding from the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK for four one-year research and development projects supporting CAV vehicle developments, specifically in the areas of energy reduction and air quality improvements. The government will launch its third CAV competition, CAV3, to fund further industry-led research and development projects later in the year.
The CAV2 announcement follows the launch of the first phase of government’s £100m (US$125.4m) CAV test bed program at the end of March, with a competition worth £55m (US$69m). In a speech to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ Connected Conference in London, the UK Business Secretary Greg Clark outlined plans to create a cluster of excellence in CAV testing along the M40 corridor between Birmingham and London. The test bed program forms part of the government’s Industrial Strategy commitment to develop world-class CAV testing infrastructure.
The program will use some of the UK’s existing CAV testing centers to create a concentrated cluster of testing facilities in the UKs automotive heartland in the West Midlands, including; Coventry, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, as well as Oxford and London. Through the launch of the Industrial Strategy green paper and the ‘Plan for Britain’, the government has significantly increased investment in research and development and reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the UK remains a world-leader in science and innovation ahead of the UK leaving the European Union (EU).
Innovate UK Chief Executive Ruth McKernan said, “These successful industry-led R&D projects will further spearhead UK development of low emission, and connected and autonomous vehicle technology, building on our world-leading research and innovation capability in this area and the significant strength of UK businesses large and small in this field.”