UK Investing $50M for Self-Driving Buses, Vans
The British Government has made $50 million of funding available to accelerate the development of commercial autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the U.K.
A competition called “Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility” is encouraging applications for grants to help kick-start the provision of self-driving services across Britain from 2025.
It’s hoped that the project will help bring together companies and investors so sustainable business models can be rolled out nationally and exported globally.
According to the government statement which announced details of the competition, the type of self-driving vehicles that would be considered for grants “include delivery vans, passenger buses, shuttles and pods, as well as vehicles that move people and luggage at airports and containers at shipping ports.”
And $1.89 million of the funding will be set aside to explore the potential use of self-driving vehicles on routes separated from other traffic as an alternative to current mass transit public transport systems, such as railway lines.
“Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionize people’s lives, whether it’s by helping to better connect people who rely on public transport with jobs, local shops, and vital services, or by making it easier for those who have mobility issues to order and access services conveniently,” the U.K.’s Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone said. “This funding will help unlock the incredible potential of this new and growing industry, building on the continued development of self-driving technology, attracting investment and helping make our transport cleaner, safer and more efficient.”
Although not yet as advanced as the United States or China in its embrace of self-driving technology, the U.K. recognizes its massive potential. The Government estimates that driverless tech could be worth $53 billion to the nation’s economy by 2035, potentially creating 38,000 new skilled jobs.
This has been reflected by growing momentum in recent months as the country prepares for the introduction of AVs to its roads.
In April, proposed changes to the Highway Code, which outlines the country’s road safety and vehicle rules, were seen as paving the way for the development of a full legal framework for self-driving vehicles.
In the same month, the country’s first trials of full-size autonomous buses on public roads got underway in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh.
And the first vehicles to be listed as ‘self-driving’ in the UK – vehicles approved under the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) Regulation – could be available for people to purchase, lease or rent later this year.