The Transport Systems Catapult has strongly welcomed Wednesday’s Budget announcement in which Chancellor George Osborne unveiled a further £100 million government investment in the development of driverless vehicles.
The funds will be used to create a £200 million five-year Intelligent Mobility Programme (£100m from government and £100 million in matched funding from industry), which will focus on enhancing the development of driverless car technology and the systems required to implement and adopt the technology.
“We are going to back our brilliant automotive industry by investing £100m to stay ahead in the race to driverless technology,” Mr Osborne told Parliament in a Budget speech which also included £7 billion of transport investment for the South West, a slower-than-planned increase in company car tax for low emission vehicles, and a £140 million investment in UK research into the infrastructure and cities of the future.
The full published version of the Budget also made reference to the All Aboard accessible transport competition being run by the Transport Systems Catapult on behalf of the Department for Transport, stating that the government would “continue to work with the Transport Systems Catapult and industry to develop a solution to ensure bus travel remains accessible” to the visually- and hearing-impaired.
“We are delighted by the Chancellor’s funding announcement, and welcome this opportunity for the UK to consolidate its position as the world-leading place to trial and demonstrate driverless technologies,” said Transport Systems Catapult CEO Steve Yianni.
The Transport Systems Catapult is the UK’s technology and innovation centre for Intelligent Mobility, and is already overseeing the pioneering trial of the LUTZ Pathfinder driverless pods which are due to be begin on pedestrianized areas of Milton Keynes later this year. The Catapult is also a partner in the £19.2 million two-city UK Autodrive Consortium which will trial on-road and on-pavement driverless technology in Milton Keynes and Coventry as part of the government’s “Introducing driverless cars to UK roads” competition.
Mr Yianni added: “Today’s welcome announcement comes barely a month after our successful launch in Greenwich of the first LUTZ Pathfinder pod prototype, and further demonstrates the UK’s appetite to lead the world in the testing and development of this exciting new field of technology.”
For more on the LUTZ Pathfinder driverless pods project, including downloadable images, please see the project page.