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Six research and development (R&D) projects from around the country have been awarded a share of a £12.1m funding pot to explore and develop connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) simulation and modelling technologies as the government kickstarts its Future of Mobility Grand Challenge.
Forming part of the Industrial Strategy, the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge is looking specifically at work that could see CAVs pressed into service to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve road safety and accessibility, and develop new economic opportunities for the UK.
Simulation and modelling capabilities will be essential for developing, testing and proving the safety of CAVs moving forward. To this end, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, through Innovate UK, launched the contest back in January 2018.
Some of the projects that will be funded are OmniCAV, which is developing a testing certification tool for CAVs; Cosmos, which is developing a simulation capability to reduce sensor interference in traffic to improve safety; and VeriCAVm, which is developing a simulation test system with automated generation of scenarios and virtual actors.
Other projects are D-Risk, which is developing a scenario generator to virtually validate CAV decision making and qualify risk; Simulation of Complex Off-Road Environments, which is developing off-road simulations for autonomous farm machinery; and Sim4SafeCAV, which is bidding to combine simulation to safety for level four autonomous vehicles to enhance safety analysis.
The various consortiums behind the projects are made up of a diverse range of stakeholders, including carmaker Jaguar Land Rover, universities such as Imperial and University College London, and other interested parties including the Ordnance Survey and Transport for London (TfL), as well as a number of tech startups, software developers and robotics companies.
“The UK has a long and proud history of leading the world in transport innovation and our Future of Mobility Grand Challenge is designed to ensure this continues,” said transport minister Jesse Norman.
“We are on the cusp of an exciting and profound change in how people, goods and services move around the country, which is set to be driven by extraordinary innovation.
“This could bring significant benefits to people right across the country and presents enormous economic opportunities for the UK, with autonomous vehicles sales set to be worth up to £52bnn by 2035,” he concluded.
At the same time, the government has launched two separate calls for evidence to help formulate future policy – one addressing the Future of Mobility Challenge, the other seeking more specific guidance on the last mile delivery services of the future.
The Future of Mobility call for evidence will enable the government to outline a number of trends around internet connectivity and automation.
These include improving sensors, increasing on-board compute power, linking vehicles to one another and roadside infrastructure such as traffic lights and road signs, reducing congestion and accidents.
Other areas of focus will include reducing emissions, improving access to shared modes of transport and changing consumer attitudes to them, as well as developing new business models to better support them.
The project will also look for input on entirely new modes of transport – including the possibility of aerial passenger vehicles, along the same lines as those being tested in the Middle East.