Eight brand new projects have been awarded £20 million in government funding to research and develop their work in the field of autonomous driving and vehicles. Their goal with the funding is to take their ideas to the next level and, as the government put it in their own words, ‘and develop enhanced communication between vehicles and roadside infrastructure or urban information systems, including new ‘talking car technologies’.
The government has set aside a dedicated Intelligent Mobility Fund and these eight projects are the first to benefit from the funding that has been made available. They range greatly in what they plan to focus on and the chosen projects are as follows:
- UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment – a project which aims to create the most advanced testing environment for autonomous and connected vehicles.
- Tools for Autonomous Logistics Operations and Management – a collaborative project which will bring together experts in the transport modelling and computer gaming industry.
- Insight – a project which focuses on the development of driverless shuttles utilising advanced sensors and systems and the trialling o these shuttles in city pedestrian areas.
- FLOURISH – a project designed to help with the development of new tools to understand the needs and expectations of this new generation of vehicles.
- Innovative Testing of Autonomous Control Techniques (INTACT) – a project based on reducing the costs of testing and evaluating the autonomous control systems developed.
- MOVE-UK – a project which focuses on speeding up the development, market ready nature and the deployment of autonomous driving systems.
- Pathway to Autonomous Commercial Vehicles – a project focus on developing an effective solution to monitor information from vehicles and predict safety risks based on set analytics.
- i-Motors: Intelligent Mobility for Future Cities Transport Systems – the development of a connected ‘Vehicle to Anything’ systems via a mobile platform as evidence of the concept.
Many of these projects sound highly technical and far reaching and all demonstrate a chance for the UK to continue to stay ahead when it comes to autonomous vehicle technology and the safety features which come with this kind of new generation of vehicle. Speaking on behalf of the government, Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin commented: “These projects will help profoundly change the way we travel within years, transforming our roads by making travel a simpler experience for drivers, reducing accidents and helping traffic flow more smoothly. They will also bring great benefits to our society and the wider economy by opening up new routes for global investment.”
Trials to test autonomous and driverless vehicles are already underway around the UK, in Milton Keynes, Coventry, Bristol and Greenwich and there are already autonomous vehicles working at Heathrow, although these run on tracks.
The safety benefits of autonomous vehicles are being tested in line with all the other developments but there is hope that in the not too distant future there will be safer, computer-controlled vehicles on the roads, creating an environment which poses less hazards and risks to all road users.