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Government pledges £12m to autonomous vehicle tech

A wave of electric cargo bikes, vans, quadricycles and micro vehicles could replace vans in UK cities as part of plans to transform last-mile deliveries, vastly reducing emissions and congestion around the country.

That’s according to 2 new government documents which offer a glimpse into how technology could transform transport, making it safer, more accessible and greener than ever.

The release of the Last Mile and Future of Mobility Call for Evidence documents mark the beginning of the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, which aims to make the UK the world leaders in the movement of goods, services and people.

As part of this, the government has confirmed £12.1m of funding for 6 projects working on simulation and modelling to aid the development of connected and autonomous vehicles. The capability will be essential for developing, testing and proving the safety of the vehicles.

The projects receiving funding are:

  • OmniCAV – a testing certification tool that can be used by accreditation bodies, insurers and manufacturers to accelerate the development of CAVs
  • COSMOS – a simulation capability designed to reduce sensor interference in traffic and therefore improve safety
  • VeriCAV – a simulation test system with automated generation of scenarios and realistic virtual actors
  • D-RISK – a scenario generator incorporating realistic edge case scenarios, in order to virtually validate a CAV’s decision making and qualify risk
  • Simulation of Complex OffRoad Environments – will reduce the cost of deploying autonomous vehicles on farms in order to help smaller farms compete with larger ones that benefit from economies of scale
  • Sim4SafeCAV – safety simulation for SAE level 4 autonomous vehicles to significantly enhance safety analysis and use simulation to demonstrate achievement of safety targets.

The research and funding are part of the government’s Industrial Strategy and the work could help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make travel safer, improve accessibility, and present enormous economic opportunities for the UK.

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “We are on the cusp of an exciting and profound change in how people, goods and services move around the country which is set to be driven by extraordinary innovation.

“This could bring significant benefits to people right across the country and presents enormous economic opportunities for the UK, with autonomous vehicles sales set to be worth up to £52bn by 2035.”

The news comes the same day as Ian Robertson, former board member at BMW, is appointed as Business Champion to help advise, shape and develop the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge. He will be supported by an Advisory Council made up of Isobel Dedring, Tracy Westall and Stan Boland.

Robertson said of the challenge: “A transport revolution in the way people and goods move around will see more changes in the next 10 years than the previous hundred. As the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge Business Champion, I’m looking forward to working with the government to help the UK build on its existing strengths and capitalise on that opportunity.”

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