Following the launch of a £40 million funding competition, self-driving vehicles, including vans, buses and shuttles could soon hit the UK’s roads. Aiming to kick-start commercial self-driving services, 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 initiative, which was announced by Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment, pursues the acceleration of a new market for self-driving technology. The market is estimated by the government to be worth £42 billion to the UK economy by 2035 and create 38,000 new skilled jobs.
“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.
The types of 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.
Michelle Gardner, Logistics UK acting deputy director of public policy, welcomed the move. saying that the competition “will help accelerate emerging technologies and with possible self-driving vehicles including those that move containers at shipping ports, as well as delivery vehicles, this is a welcome step forward”.
However, she warned that “safety and sustainability must remain a core focus alongside consideration to vital economic and business benefits”.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), also commented on the news, adding: “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.
“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.”
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