The Government has today announced a two-strand competition totalling £41.5m to kick-start commercial self-driving use cases.
The "Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility" competition will be run by Innovate UK and CCAV and has two funding streams:
- Strand 1: Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility: Deployments (£40m)
- Strand 2: Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility: Mass Transit (£1.5m)
The Deployments competition offers the opportunity to support development of commercial logistics as well as passenger use cases and includes use cases on private land to which the public do not have access. Potential use cases therefore involve the likes of delivery vehicles and depot movements as well as airport and port use cases.
The Mass Transit competition is designed to fund feasibility studies into the potential of automated transport on segregated infrastructure to deliver mass transit options in ways that may be more sustainable and commercial than, for example, a railway or conventional busway. This competition follows on the heels of the Government's consultation this year on allowing non-physical guided transport modes to be authorised by a Transport and Works Act order in England and Wales.
Whilst the UK prepares to introduce self-driving cars to public roads (initially through Automated Lane Keeping Systems) following the Law Commissions' conclusion of their legal review into automated vehicles, these competitions are a welcome reinforcement of the general application of the technology and its potential for commercial deployment to transport goods or people not just in public space but in private space as well.
Types of self-driving vehicles that could be deployed include delivery vans, passenger buses, shuttles and pods, as well as vehicles that move people and luggage at airports and containers at shipping ports.