The UK government is funding a new £40 million competition to kick-start commercial self-driving services such as delivery vehicles and passenger shuttles.
The ‘Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility’ competition will provide grants to help roll out commercial use self-driving vehicles across the UK from 2025.
The competition is designed to help bring together companies and investors so that sustainable business models can be rolled out nationally and exported globally.
The self-driving vehicles that could be deployed include delivery vans, passenger buses, shuttles and pods, as well as vehicles that move people and luggage at airports and containers at shipping ports.
Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone says: “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.”
£1.5 million of the funding will be used to study and explore using self-driving vehicles as a means of public transport that could provide an alternative to mass transit systems. This includes, for example, using self-driving vehicles on routes separated from other traffic that could be cheaper and more flexible than new railway lines.
The UK government is continuing to develop a comprehensive legal and assurance framework for self-driving vehicles to ensure the safety of the technology. The government announced a Transport Bill in the recent Queen’s Speech that will introduce comprehensive legislation for self-driving vehicles to enable safe and responsible deployment.
The first vehicles to be listed as self-driving in the UK – vehicles approved under the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) Regulation – could be available for people to purchase, lease or rent later this year. Vehicles will undergo rigorous testing and will only be permitted to drive themselves when they have met stringent standards.
The competition is run by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), a joint Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Department for Transport (DfT) unit.
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