Driverless cars win share of Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

Projects researching and testing autonomous vehicles have been awarded £38m through government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The Business Secretary Greg Clarke announced a total of around £700m of support for research and development in six areas of industry: robotics and artificial intelligence; batteries for grid energy storage; driverless cars; healthcare and medicine; manufacturing and materials; and satellites and space technology.

Winners of a share of the £38m, awarded through a Centre of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles – CAV2 – competition, include the Streetwise project. This is aiming to launch a supervised trial of a fleet of autonomous vehicles on roads in London before the end of 2019. The Streetwise consortium consists of Direct Line, TRL, Oxford University, Transport for London and artificial intelligence and machine learning software specialist FiveAI. Streetwise has been given £12.8m to help it demonstrate the technology can be used safely, and to build insurance and service models for self-driving public transport.

This is one of three CAV2 winers that include TRL, which has also been involved in the Gateway project piloting asutonomous vehicles in Greenwich. “We continue to see a major industry shift towards automation, connectivity and electrification of vehicles, and the use of shared mobility schemes," said TRL chief executive officer Rob Wallis. “TRL believes the UK Government's CAV ambitions, in partnership with British businesses, remains critical in ensuring the UK plays its role as a major global innovator within this fast-changing market. TRL is proud to be engaged in an ever-increasing programme of innovative CAV initiatives, building on its many decades of experience in this field."

Other consortia in which TRL is involved include DRIVEN which is also aiming to put a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles on urban areas and on motorways, culminating in an end-to-end journey from London to Oxford. A key area of focus will be the development of an automated system to radically transform how insurance and autonomous vehicles will work together in connected cities.

TRL's hea of insurance, Iwan Parry, said: “To support the successful adoption of CAVs, it is important to consider all of the elements around safety, insurance and traffic management alongside the technology itself. Through DRIVEN, TRL will work with consortia partners to develop a structure for an integrated transport approach that sees vehicles connect seamlessly to urban traffic control systems. Innovative and dynamic insurance methodologies are vital to ensure a confident reception to CAVs on UK roads.”