Government launches driverless vehicle research project

The government has revealed a driverless car research and development project to make the UK a leading force in the field of autonomous transport.

The initiative, launched with a 20 million budget, also includes creating a code of practice for testing the technology.

The project has been developed in collaboration with the Department for Transport and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which have created the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV) to deal with matters directly related to autonomous vehicles.

Business secretary Sajid Javid said at the launch: "To boost productivity, Britain will need to capitalise on new technologies like driverless vehicles, securing high skilled jobs for those who want to work hard and get on, and contributing to a more prosperous future for the whole of the country."

"The country's automotive industry, strengths in innovation and light touch regulatory approach to testing driverless technology combine to make the UK market competitive and an attractive destination for investors."

The code of practice will allow organisations developing driverless vehicle technologies to test their innovations using framework provided by the government. It will help develop safer policies, merging real-life scenarios with processes, enabling companies to create new models for different circumstances.

"Driverless cars will bring great benefits to our society and economy and I want the UK to lead the way in developing this exciting technology," transport minister Andrew Jones said. "Our code of practice clearly shows that the UK is in the best position when it comes to testing driverless cars and embracing the motoring of the future. We now look forward to working with industry to make this a reality."

The government's initiative will focus on safety, reliability, communication between vehicles and the environment around them and developing solutions for the elderly. It is inviting companies to bid for funds to work on the research projects, although successful parties will be expected to match contributions with their own money.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.