Eight new driverless vehicle projects have been awarded £20m in funding from the Government, it has been announced.

The projects are the first schemes to be funded from the Government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund. The programmes receiving the cash injections range from developing autonomous shuttles to carry visually impaired passengers to new simulation trials for driverless ‘pods’.

Autonomous vehicle trials are already taking place in Bristol, Coventry, Milton Keynes and Greenwich in South London.

The Government said the extra funding would “help strengthen the UK as a global centre for the intelligent mobility market”, which it estimates will be worth £900bn per year globally by 2025.

“Our cars of the future will be equipped with the technologies that will make getting from A to B safer, faster, and cleaner,” said business secretary Sajid Javid. “They will alert drivers of accidents ahead and be able to receive information from their surroundings about hazards, increasing the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians.”

The eight R&D projects to receive funding are:

  • UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment (UKCITE): a project to create the most advanced environment for testing connected and autonomous vehicles. It involves equipping over 40 miles of urban roads, dual-carriageways and motorways with combinations of 3 “talking car technologies” and testing for a fourth, known as LTE-V.
  • Insight: a project to develop driverless shuttles with advanced sensors and control systems and trial them in city pedestrian areas, with a particular focus on improving urban accessibility for disabled and visually-impaired people.
  • Tools for autonomous logistics operations and management: this project is a collaboration bringing together transport modellers and the computer games industry to develop new modelling and help improve the return on investment into Connected and Autonomous Vehicle fleets significantly.
  • FLOURISH: this scheme will help develop new tools to improve the understanding of user needs and expectations of connected and autonomous vehicles. It will be based in Bristol and will test capabilities in both urban and suburban networked environments.
  • MOVE-UK: this project will be focused on accelerating the development, market readiness and deployment of automated driving systems.
  • INnovative Testing of Autonomous Control Techniques (INTACT): these plans aim to reduce the cost of testing and evaluating autonomous control systems in a safe, repeatable, controlled and scientifically rigorous environment.
  • Pathway to Autonomous Commercial Vehicles: this project will develop an innovative solution to monitor key information from the vehicle and predict safety risks based on analytics. It will build on a prototype, which monitors tyre pressures and temperatures in commercial vehicles.
  • i-MOTORS – Intelligent Mobility for Future Cities Transport Systems: i-MOTORS will deliver a connected Vehicle to Anything (V2X) system via a mobile platform as a proof of concept. The project will also develop hardware which will receive and analyse sensory data in real-time from multiple locations via online cloud technology to raise the standard of data-processing in the connected and autonomous driving industry.

The BVLRA welcomed the extra investment by the Government: “It is reassuring to hear that this funding competition was oversubscribed and that such a diverse array of organisations and projects have ended up securing investment,” said BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney. “The Government needs to continue spending this £100m wisely and we hope to see more and more real-world testing of exciting new autonomous and connected vehicles.”