£20m backing for driverless cars

The UK government has launched a £20m research and development fund dedicated to boosting driverless car developments.

Funding will be awarded following a competition to find the bid with the most innovative approach to developing the technology. It is hoped the money will make Britain the best place to test the autonomous vehicles, in a market estimated to be worth £900bn by 2025.

Projects will have to consider how the futuristic vehicles will communicate with one another and the surrounding environment. Safety, reliability and an effective means for different vehicles to communicate with each other will be the top priorities.

The bidder with the best proposal will have to match the £20m with their own money.

Business secretary, Sajid Javid said, ‘To boost productivity Britain will need to capitalise on new technologies like driverless vehicles, securing high skilled jobs for those who want to work hard and get on, and contributing to a more prosperous future for the whole of the country.

‘Our world beating automotive industry, strengths in innovation and light touch regulatory approach to testing driverless technology combine to make the UK market competitive and an attractive destination for investors.’

Professor Nick Reed, technical lead of the GATEWay project and academy director at TRL, said, ‘We want to make sure that the trials are optimally developed and delivered, so the first public vehicle trials won’t take place until 2016. But now that the new Code of Practice has given the green light for testing on UK roads, it won’t be long before you see one of our self-driving vehicles out in the public again.’