A project to deliver driverless logistics vehicles has been awarded a share of a wider £81m from the UK government and industry as part of a funding announcement for driverless technologies in the UK.
Some of the other projects to be awarded funding include:
- CAVForth II by Fusion Processing, which was awarded £10.4m to launch the world’s first operational, full-sized, self-driving bus service in Edinburgh with Stagecoach and Alexander Dennis
- Hub2Hub from HVS, which won £13.2m to develop a new, zero emissions, self-driving HGV with Asda
- Sunderland Advanced Mobility Shuttle from City of Sunderland Council, which received £6m to build and trial a self-driving shuttle service to the University of Sunderland and the Sunderland Royal Hospital
- Project Harlander by Belfast Harbour, which was awarded £11m to deploy a self-driving shuttle service around Belfast Harbour
- Multi-Area Connected Automated Mobility by Conigital, which won £15.2m to establish a remote driving control hub, to oversee self-driving vehicles operating in Solihull and Coventry, with the NEC and local councils
- Project Cambridge Connector from Greater Cambridge Partnership, which was allocated £17.4m to trial on-demand, self-driving taxis, to complement existing transport services in parts of Cambridge.
The £42m in government funding is reportedly being matched by investments from industry, bringing to the total to about £81m.
Grant Shapps, business secretary, said: “In just a few years’ time, the business of self-driving vehicles could add tens of billions to our economy and create tens of thousands of jobs across the UK.
“This is a massive opportunity to drive forward our priority to grow the economy, which we are determined to seize.
“The support we are providing today will help our transport and technology pioneers steal a march on the global competition, by turning their bright ideas into market-ready products sooner than anyone else.”
Autonomous mobility company StreetDrone will take the technology lead in the second phase of the V-CAL project, which was a awarded an £8m share of the funding (£4m from central government, matched by industry) for its work on developing an autonomous HGV for zero-emission automated logistics.
The first phase of the project intended to deliver a working proof-of-concept (PoC) demonstration of an autonomous and teleoperated 40-tonne truck, with live loads delivered without intervention by a safety driver. This stage resulted in the successful trial of a vehicle within these parameters.
The project’s second stage was announced today [1 February 2023], and will involve StreetDrone attempting to demonstrate scalability and fully operational deployment of four zero-emission autonomous HGVs in a complex industrial environment.
Project V-CAL will see StreetDrone partner with Vantec, Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK (NMUK), Nokia, Newcastle University, Angoka, BP International Limited and Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP.
Paul Butler, CEO at the NEAA, said: “The North East region is uniquely placed to develop, test and commercialise CAL technologies.
“It is home to a critical mass of local manufacturing industry, with ambitious growth plans.
“We are delighted to be awarded V-CAL project funding to be able to scale and expand the initial 5G CAL proof of concept, which ended in 2022, and provide two real industrial use cases for the scale and deployment of connected and autonomous logistics.
“The logistics sector is strategically important to the North East and UK economy, and this provides an opportunity to build resilience in the sector and for the UK to take a leading role in the development and commercialisation of CAL technologies.”