Will self-driving cars be on UK roads by 2021? Government launches a £30 million fund to speed up the roll out of driverless vehicles
- £5 million has been set aside for projects building self-parking cars
- Business Minister said funding could make parallel parking ‘a thing of the past’
- Philip Hammond has vowed to bring autonomous vehicles to the UK by 2021
The government has unveiled a new £30 million fund to help get driverless cars on the road.
Chancellor Philip Hammond vowed to bring fully-autonomous vehicles to the UK by 2021 in his autumn budget last year.
The latest multi-million round of funding is designed to speed-up the roll-out of autonomous vehicles by supporting technology and automotive companies developing driverless systems.
Companies will have to bid for the funding, Business Minister Richard Harrington announced today.
Of the £30 million total, the government has set aside £5 million to be awarded specifically to projects building cars that can park themselves.
The Business Minister said these projects could help to ‘make learning to parallel park a thing of the past’ in less than a decade.
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A Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) vehicle equipped with autonomous driving technology navigates its way through Coventry city centre. The government recently confirmed plans to award £5 million in funds to companies developing self-parking technology
To qualify for the funding, the technology would have to allow the vehicle to park itself in a variety of environments without human intervention.
Tesla already ships cars which are capable of parking themselves, however, the manoeuvre does require someone to be present in the drivers’ seat.
The driver has to first pass as close to the cars on either side of the parking space as possible, so that the ultrasonic sensors fitted in the body of the Tesla can perform a scan of their positions.
When the driver has finished, the car will park in the space it has detected between the scanned cars, without any need for the drivers’ hands to be on the wheel.
If an obstruction that wasn’t present during the original scan should appear, the car will ask whether it is safe to continue its manoeuvre.
The government funding announcement comes after an earlier competition saw four UK-based projects awarded a total of £51 million to test the speed, safety and potential opportunities for connected autonomous vehicles.
A Jaguar Land Rover research vehicle equipped with the company’s self-driving technology pictured in Coventry. Technology and automotive companies are able to bid for the £30 million of funds made available by the Government
Chancellor Philip Hammond vowed to bring fully-autonomous vehicles to the UK by 2021 in his autumn budget in November 2017
Officials now estimate the driverless car industry will be worth £28 billion to the economy by 2035 and support as many as 27,000 jobs.
Business Minister Richard Harrington said: ‘Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise the way we move people and goods across the UK.
‘They also support our ambition for a cleaner, greener future as part of our modern Industrial Strategy.
‘The UK is already leading the way in developing this technology and today’s funding will bring self-driving vehicles one step closer to becoming a normal feature on UK roads and could, in time, make learning to parallel park a thing of the past.’
The £30 million is being funded through the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and Meridian, the Government hub for testing autonomous car technology, which is funded in part by industry.
Britain wants to be one of the first countries to get autonomous cars driving on the roads, however, it faces stuff competition from the United States.
Waymo – owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet – recently unveiled a self-driving minivan that it hopes could revolutionise the way we travel. It started testing driverless taxis in Phoenix, Arizona but has now conducted tests in 25 US cities
California-based company Waymo, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, this month announced the next stage in its ongoing partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which that will see the self-driving firm add some 62,000 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid minivans to its fleet.
The two automotive companies have also revealed that they are in ‘beginning discussions’ that could see Fiat Chrysler cars with Waymo self-driving technology available to retail customers for the first time.
Waymo CEO John Krafci added: ‘Waymo’s goal from day one has been to build the world’s most experienced driver and give people access to self-driving technology that will make our roads safer.
‘We’re excited to deepen our relationship with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that will support the launch of our driverless service, and explore future products that support Waymo’s mission.’
Waymo has already conducted tests in 25 US cities and recently started to deploy vehicles that have no driver to step-in and grab the wheel if things go wrong.
WHAT ARE THE SIX LEVELS OF SELF-DRIVING AUTOMATION?
Level Zero – The full-time performance by the human driver of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even when enhanced by warning or intervention systems.
Level One – A small amount of control is accomplished by the system such as adaptive braking if a car gets too close.
Level Two – The system can control the speed and direction of the car allowing the driver to take their hands off temporarily, but they have to monitor the road at all times and be ready to take over.
Level Three – The driver does not have to monitor the system at all times in some specific cases like on high ways but must be ready to resume control if the system requests.
Level Four – The system can cope will all situations automatically within defined use but it may not be able to cope will all weather or road conditions. System will rely on high definition mapping.
Level Five – Full automation. System can cope with all weather, traffic and lighting conditions. It can go anywhere, at any time in any conditions.
Tesla’s Model 3 Sedan – one of the world’s most advanced road-legal cars with autonomous elements – currently operates at Level Two autonomy. It is equipped for Level Three autonomy, which may be introduced in a future software update
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