Self-driving buses one step closer in the United Kingdom

A new £40 million (A$70 million) competition to kick-start commercial self-driving services, such as delivery vehicles and passenger shuttles, has been launched by Lord Grimstone, the UK Minister for Investment.

Self-driving buses one step closer in the United Kingdom
Autonomous appear closer with the announcement

The funding could create tens of thousands of skilled jobs across the UK over the next decade, says the UK government.

The Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility competition will provide grants to help roll out commercial use self-driving vehicles across the UK from 2025, delivering convenience for consumers and making journeys safer, greener and more reliable.

The competition will help bring together companies and investors so that sustainable business models can be rolled out nationally and exported globally.

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.

"Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise 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," Lord Grimstone said.

The competition will unlock a new industry that could be worth £42 billion (A$74 billion) to the UK economy by 2035, potentially creating 38,000 new skilled jobs.

Study of the success of the rollout will be a part of the funding

£1.5 million (A$2.6 million) of the funding will be used to study and explore the use of self-driving vehicles as a means of public transport that could provide an alternative to mass transit systems. This includes, for example, using self-driving vehicles on routes separated from other traffic, which could be cheaper and more flexible than new railway lines.

The UK government is continuing to develop a comprehensive legal and assurance framework for self-driving vehicles to ensure the safety of the technology. The government announced a Transport Bill in the recent Queen’s Speech that will introduce comprehensive legislation for self-driving vehicles to enable safe and responsible deployment.

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. Vehicles will undergo rigorous testing and will only be permitted to drive themselves when they have met stringent standards.

This competition is part of the UK and its partners’ investment of £440 million (A$776 million) to date in connected and self-driving vehicle innovation.




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