UK government offers new funding for connected and autonomous vehicle projects

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Under a new UK government initiative to accelerate the introduction of self-driving systems, innovative businesses could win a share of up to £35m (US$45.6m) to research and develop new connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

The Center for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and Innovate UK are inviting companies and organizations to apply for innovation project funding of up to £35m. Projects need to come up with technical solutions for connected and autonomous vehicle features, which should provide real-world benefits to users. This includes how these vehicles will work as part of a wider transport system and proposals must show a clear commercial benefit. Funding for this competition comes from CCAV (up to £30m/US$39m) and Innovate UK (£5m/US$6.6m).

The CCAV is a joint policy unit that was set up by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Transport (DfT). The aim of CCAV is to help ensure that the UK is a world leader in developing and testing connected and autonomous vehicles.

The competition is in four streams:

• Stream 1 will fund a large-scale challenge to develop and demonstrate a vehicle capable of operating at SAE level 4 automation (high automation) over a distance of at least 10 miles (16km). The vehicle must operate safely in a live traffic environment on a mix of UK public roads and cover urban and inter-urban travel, and undertake this demonstration in a variety of conditions, including day and night-time and good and bad weather. The vehicle must also demonstrate some aspect of zero-occupant driving capability, as part of the journey, such as an on-demand pick-up. CCAV expects to fund one or two projects, with total costs of £15-30m (US$19-38m), which should last between 18 and 30 months.

• Stream 2 is for collaborative research and development projects that should focus on business opportunities or real customer problems. The aim is to support concepts that will become future core technologies in around 2020 to 2025. Projects will last 18 to 30 months, and range in size from total project costs of £500,000 to £5m (US$652,000-US$6.5m).

• Stream 3 is for technical feasibility study projects that should apply innovative thinking to real-world problems. Projects will last one to two years, and have total costs of up to £250,000 (US$326,000).

• Stream 4 is for collaborative research and development projects that can deliver results within one year, and develop products, services and business models that provide energy reduction and air quality improvements using CAV technology. Projects should also focus on how to bring these products and services to market. Total project costs will range in size from £250,000 to £3m (US$326,000-US$4m).

The competition opens on August 22, with a deadline of November 9. All projects must be collaborative and a business must lead the project.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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