UK reveals strategy for global autonomous vehicle leadership

The UK has said it is to drive efforts to become the world leader in the development of driverless vehicles as the government pumped millions of pounds into new research.

Last week, the country’s government announced £4.5 billion of investment for British manufacturing to boost economic growth, as part of wider government support to “ensure the UK is the best place to start, grow, and invest in manufacturing”.

Funding will be delivered to eight sectors that are key to economic growth, energy security, and levelling up, including up to £150 million for Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) to 2030.

“This landmark funding package forms a part of the Advanced Manufacturing Plan, which sets out government’s plans for investing in the future of manufacturing, opening markets, and removing obstacles for business,” said a government spokesperson. “This Government funding for CAM will be matched by industry and enable the UK’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) to cement the UK’s place among world leaders for designing, developing, deploying, and manufacturing self-driving technologies, products, and services.”

The CCAV said it is working to create an early commercial market and secure first mover advantage in the deployment of self-driving vehicles and services, building on around £600 million of joint investment with industry in over 100 projects across the UK since 2015.

“The latest research suggests the economic benefits of CAM for the UK could be £66 billion per year and 342,000 additional jobs by 2040 if government intervenes appropriately in policy, regulation, funding (de-risking globally mobile investment), skills, and public communication,” added a CCAV statement.

“This funding will boost the UK’s development and implementation of CAM, transforming how we get around, making journeys safer, more convenient, and more accessible while also creating highly skilled jobs and helping to grow the UK economy,” the spokesperson added. “The new Automated Vehicles (AV) Bill will deliver one of the most comprehensive legal frameworks of its kind, anywhere in the world, for self-driving vehicles with safety and innovation at its core.

“This funding, complemented by enabling legislation, is crucial for a UK CAM sector that is broader than privately owned vehicles and robo-taxis, and includes the logistics, mass transit, mining, agriculture, and defence sectors.”

CCAV  explained the programme will focus on the highest potential economic and societal impact opportunities for the UK in the early commercialisation of these technologies, whilst also ensuring these are safe and secure for all. It will target market segments and capabilities for which the UK currently has comparative and/or competitive advantage, or where targeted investment could achieve such advantage in the global value chain.

“CCAV will also consider the need for a Centre of Excellence for UK Connected and Automated Mobility to work with departments and organisations, focussing on coordination challenges and to strengthen the capabilities, skills, and public engagement,” the statement added. “The Centre will work closely with government to support SME access to finance, international engagement, and exports.”