Safe, secure and autonomous vehicle projects across the region get Innovate UK funding boost

Oxbotica at Lingen Refinery_LargeImage_m312141

Four trailblazing projects, two in Oxfordshire and two in the West Midlands, have received £2.3 million of funding from Innovate UK, part of the government’s UK Research and Innovation,

The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest in these projects. The aim of this competition is to continue development of technologies to enable safe use of fully automated vehicles.

The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles is part of the Department for Transport and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Oxford-based Oxbotica is to lead a project to demonstrate how driverless goods delivery can be done safely. The project partnership includes Ocado Group, the UK based pioneering online grocery technology company, as a future autonomous vehicle (AV) fleet operator.

Coventry-based Aurrigo will lead a project that will use test bed sites across the UK and the National Exhibition Centre grounds, in Birmingham, to develop, verify and validate connected autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology, communications systems and cyber security requirements to strengthen the safety case for CAVs and increase the understanding of the infrastructure needed for safe operation.

This is in order to achieve the ultimate goal of removing the need for an on-board safety supervisor whilst operating in a live environment.

Oxford-based StreetDrone’s project aims to reduce time to market for connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology in the movement of goods. The project centres on the use of ‘multi-driver’ vehicles. This can be driven through in-vehicle operator, remote operator or autonomous driving stack (ADS).

StreetDrone wants the UK to be first to market in the automation of the freight supply chain.

Birmingham-based Conigital’s is undertaking a project on the human side of CAV.

The winners were announced at the Cenex LCV CAM event at the UTAC Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford.

Transport Minister, Trudy Harrison said: “The four projects announced today will help industry understand and overcome the challenges ahead as we seek to deploy safe and secure CAM services in the UK. Helping to secure our global leadership in this exciting, challenging and innovative space.”

Simon Edmonds, Chief Business Officer, Innovate UK said: “The future of land transport in the UK, especially in urban environments, is increasingly going to be one where autonomous vehicles play a leading role. To make this happen we have to move forward with solutions that are not only ingenious, but also gain public confidence in these new technologies.

“The pioneering projects for which we have announced funding today will help to drive this ambition forward.”

In September, StreetDrone announced that it had secured £3 million investment from high street retailer Wilko.

Part of a wider multi-million-pound pre-series A round, it is enabling StreetDrone to accelerate the development of its autonomous delivery vehicle and systems.

StreetDrone is aiming to deploy driverless delivery vehicles on the UK’s roads by the end of 2023 and is working with UK- and European-based vehicle safety agencies on defining the standards by which these technologies will be allowed to operate on public roads.

Wilko’s ambition is to ultimately provide customers with access to new digitally-enabled services, including autonomous retail deliveries, to make it easier for them to access the products they need for homes and gardens.

Earlier this month, Oxbotica announced that it had secured investment from German technology company ZF, which supplies systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology. ZF has taken a seat on the company’s advisory board with a five per cent share.

ZF and Oxbotica will develop a Level 4 self-driving system that can be integrated into various vehicles including Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) shuttles to provide on-demand passenger and also goods transportation vehicles in urban environments which it intends to be deployed in passenger shuttles in major cities around the world.