Nigel welcomes competition for collaborative R&D funding to introducing driverless cars to UK roads

Nigel today welcomed the opening of a national competition designed to introduce driverless cars to UK roads.

The competition, administered by the Technology Board and back by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Transport, opened today. £10 million of government funding will be awarded to towns or cities to develop testing grounds for driverless cars. The competition closes on 1st October 2014 and projects are expected to begin from 1st January 2015 (running for between 18 and 36 months).

The project are expected to be non-enclosed schemes i.e. these will be schemes expected to integrate with existing transport networks and successful projects will need to demonstrate close collaboration with partners such as technology developers, supply chain companies and manufacturers.

Each trial must enable both the demonstration of passenger cars that can operate part of the time on roads without driver control and at least one other form of ground-based urban transportation (not rail) that can operate part of the time without driver control.

Mr Evans said:

“Semi-autonomous and fully driverless cars represent the biggest transformation in road travel since the introduction of the internal combustion engine. They could play a significant role in a future transport system, increasing efficiency, safety and comfort and providing mobility solutions to a wider public, both young and old.

“The difference that this technology could make in people’s everyday lives is immense. Whether it is a blind or partially sighted person being able to take control of their own transportation, business men and women being able to maximise their time by working during their commute, or even the opportunity for businesses such as rural pubs where drink driving laws understandably make them unviable.

“I look forward to seeing the results of this government backed competition and I hope that it will take us one step closer to an advance in transportation that will be of huge benefit to many, many people.”