Launched as the ‘commercialising connected and automated mobility competition’, the government has launched this initiative, which will help to generate funds for the development of autonomous commercial vehicles. The types of cars that fall into this category include things like delivery vans, shuttles, and self-driving buses. The grants will be on offer to aid self-driving vehicle manufacturers to begin construction in 2025.
The plan is to unite investors and companies in creating sustainable business models for both national and export purposes. Trudy Harrison, who is the transport minister, spoke of her vision, saying, ‘We know that self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise the way we travel, making our future journeys cleaner, easier and more reliable. But our absolute priority is harnessing the technology to improve road safety.’
Current statistics are able to show that over 88% of the accidents on our roads today can be traced back to human error. Autonomous vehicles have technology that is able to significantly lower the number of accidents on the road. With that in mind, there is a lot of interest in self-driving vehicles for public transport and a possibility that autonomous vehicles using routes that keep them away from other traffic may well provide a more cost-effective solution and offer more flexibility than a new railway system, for example.
The £1.5 million funding that has been assigned will enable the exploration of self-driving vehicles for public transport purposes. It is thought that the first autonomous vehicles, those that have been certified under the automated lane-keeping system regulations, will hit the roads and therefore be available to lease, purchase or rent within the remainder of this year. But, of course, this new technology requires stringent testing in order to ensure they are going to meet the purpose and add to safety rather than cause more problems.
Overall Support is High
Autonomous vehicles are receiving a good level of support;
Lord Grimstone, who is the Minister for Investment, says that the funding will help unlock the incredible potential of this new and growing industry. It will build on the continued development of autonomous technology, attract investment and ensure that we can make our transport cleaner, more efficient and ultimately safer.
Mike Hawes, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Chief Executive said self-driving vehicles offer significant benefits to society, improving road safety, supporting new jobs and economic growth, and enabling greater mobility for everyone. So, the UK is rightly seeking to be at the forefront of this technological evolution.
He continued to explain that ‘recent regulatory reforms have helped Britain establish themselves as a leader in the rollout of autonomous vehicles. Today’s announcement is seen as a massive step towards self-driving public transport and vehicles for the delivery of goods and services’.