The government has announced (on 19 July 2015) the launch of a £20 million competitive fund for collaborative research and development into driverless vehicles, along with a code of practice for testing plus formation of a new policy unit to co-ordinate government policy on driverless cars and connected technology.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is to invest up to £20 million in collaborative R&D projects and feasibility studies (delivered by Innovate UK on behalf of BIS) to stimulate developments in autonomous vehicles and connected transport systems.
A year on from the Introducing driverless cars to UK roads competition, that provided £10 million (subsequently increased to £19 million) for three projects testing autonomous vehicles in real-life scenarios, testing on public roads can begin in earnest, upon publication of the Department for Transport’s code of practice for testing.
The Spring, pre-election, budget in March 2015 offered further potential support, promising £100 million of investment into research and development of intelligent mobility, matched by funding from industry to total £200 million.
Although that commitment made by the previous Government, is subject to the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review launched today by the Chancellor (to be published on 25 November 2015), Innovate UK’s Connected and autonomous vehicles competition as announced in detail today - is offering the initial part of that investment to encourage development of connected and autonomous vehicles.
The focus for the Connected and autonomous vehicles competition will be on connectivity, autonomy and customer interaction – along with catalysing new business models.
The deadline for applications is at noon on 30 September 2015.
As for last year’s competition, KTN will be involved in briefing and networking activities for potential applicants - to be held in London for 4 August 2015.
Registration details for the briefing and networking event is as follows:
Proposals sought in themes of connectivity, autonomy and customer interaction
The government wants bidders to put forward proposals in areas such as safety, reliability, how vehicles can communicate with each other and the environment around them and how driverless vehicles can help give an ageing population greater independence.
The aim, as laid out in the competition scope, is to provide a world-class research base in systems for connected and autonomous vehicles.
Funding projects covering other modes of transport outside the automotive space won’t be funded but connected infrastructure and supporting systems and services are within scope.
Proposals for both collaborative R&D and feasibility studies are sought connectivity, autonomy and customer interaction.
Within these thematic areas, collaborative R&D proposals must address one or more of:
system validation tools and methodologies including security and;
assistance for an ageing population and to aid assisted living;
trial of vehicles;
demonstration of system through modelling;
rapid change to the environment;
collection and analysis of data (along open data principles).
Collaborative R&D projects are expected to range in size from total costs of £1 million to £5 million. Overseas-based partners are encourage to participate in consortia by conducting their R&D in the UK.
Feasibility studies are not restricted and proposals are invited within the three thematic areas of connectivity, autonomy and customer interaction. Projects must have the potential to lead on to future R&D opportunities.
Up to £2.5 million of the total funding will be available for smaller-scale feasibility studies. These are open to companies working alone or collaboratively. Small businesses could receive up to 70% of their eligible project costs, medium-sized businesses 60% and large businesses 50%. Feasibility studies are expected to range in size from £50,000 to £250,000.
Code of practice for testing and policy co-ordination body also announced
Separately from the Innovate UK competition, the code of practice for testing provides, accordion to the Government announcement, “a framework for industry to safely trial cars in real-life scenarios, and to create more sophisticated versions of the models that already exist”.
In addition, The Department for Transport and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have established a joint policy unit, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV), which will co-ordinate government policy on driverless cars and connected technology.
C-CAV is working on technological developments, including plans to test new roadside communication technology to improve traffic flow and safety through ‘connected corridors’. This would pilot technology that will provide drivers with useful journey and safety information.
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