In February last year (2016), it was published that eight projects have been awarded £20 million in funding to develop the next generation of autonomous vehicles. What are connected and autonomous vehicles? What will this funding do? And are we equipped to make it a success?
Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVS) incorporate a range of different technologies, facilitating the safe, efficient movement of people and goods. Increased connectivity allows vehicles to communicate with their surrounding environment.
It’s known that the UK has a rich fabric of scientists and engineers who have established the UK as pioneers in the research and development of connected and autonomous vehicles. What’s more, this funding will help strengthen the UK as a global centre for the fast-growing intelligent mobility market, estimated to be worth £900 billion per year globally by 2025.
The funded projects will address various issues such as putting driverless vehicles through their paces in simulators, real-world testing of vehicle data connectivity technologies and studies of the human design aspects for older, disabled and visually-impaired people. As well as those, they will focus on the programming driverless cars to behave more like human drivers and studying how driverless freight vehicles can be introduced.
Moreover, three of the projects are allied with the three ongoing government supported trials of driverless cars funded from the Introducing driverless cars to UK roads competition underway in the Bristol, Milton Keynes, Coventry and Greenwich.
Business Secretary at the time, Sajid Javid said:
‘Our cars of the future will be equipped with the technologies that will make getting from A to B safer, faster, and cleaner. They will alert drivers of accidents ahead and be able to receive information from their surroundings about hazards, increasing the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians.’
With the introduction of new technologies and intelligent infrastructure there is a trend toward a broader range of engineering and technical skills required to deliver future investment plans. Therefore, we have a responsibility to prepare for these changes and adapt accordingly, especially as new research highlighted that Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) will transform the lives of six out of every 10 people in the UK. It’s not possible to achieve the vision in this strategy without a strong skill base and so the government has launched a Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy, which included a commitment to 30,000 apprenticeships.