Jeremy Hunt self-driving story profile pic, 2023

43 British companies win CCAV funding for self-driving supply chain projects.

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Self-driving gets healthy slice of new £50m funding for cutting edge UK manufacturing

On 4 September 2023, the UK government announced the recipients of £50m in funding “to cement the UK as the best location in the world to manufacture”. The winners included several major self-driving projects.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, said: “From farm tractors fuelled by hydrogen to rapid-charge first responder motorcycles, these projects receiving funding today show we are not short of innovators in this country.

“By supporting growth in the industries of the future, including through better regulation, we are delivering on our plan to get the economy growing and make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.”

Self-driving winners

In addition to 12 mainly clean fuel-related projects to be funded via the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) announced £18.5m in joint government and industry funding for 13 new self-driving projects.

Designed to address critical technology gaps, enhance safety and security, improve performance and reliability, and create scalable opportunities both domestically and globally, these connected and automated mobility (CAM) supply chain projects will be delivered in partnership with Zenzic and Innovate UK.

The winning projects are, in alphabetical order:

·       AIM-DBW

·       Autonomous Cargo

·       CERTUS

·       DeepSafe

·       DriveSafeAI

·       Driven By Sound

·       evolvAD

·       High-Performance Imaging Radar (HPIR)

·       Photonic Inertial Sensors for Automotive (PISA)

·       Sim4CAMSens

·       StreetCAV

·       Systems for Autonomy in Fail Operational Environments (SAFE)

·       Torque Overlay Automated Steering Technology (TOAST)

Decarbonisation and Technology Minister, Jesse Norman MP, commented: “Self-driving vehicles have the potential to transform how we get around, making journeys safer, more convenient and more accessible while also creating skilled jobs. These grant winners underline how the UK is at the cutting edge in developing automated technologies that are not only innovative but have safety at their heart.”

Meanwhile, Minister for Industry and Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani MP, visited Wayve, one of the 43 British companies involved, yesterday (5 September). “The automotive industry will go through a self-drive revolution = huge economic growth & new jobs,” she said on Twitter (X). “We are supporting AI tech firms in leading the way.”

The headline facts and figures for each winning project are as follows:

AIM-DBW – lead partner Aim Technologies, with TRL – to deliver a universal drive-by-wire system to enable the automation of throttle, steering, braking and gears. Grant: £400,000.

Autonomous Cargo – lead partner Aurrigo, with UPS – to create a self-driving 7.5 tonne dolly for airside cargo movements, along with a simulation tool. Grant: £480,000.

Certus – lead partners Horiba Mira, with Coventry University, Connected Places Catapult, Polestar Automotive UK, and IPG Automotive UK – to provide a verification and validation (V&V) test requirements toolset for an automated driving system (ADS). Grant: £1.5m.

DeepSafe – lead partner, with Imperial College London, Claytex Services, DG Cities, and rFpro – to support the V&V of ADSs through industry-critical data and a next-generation simulation toolchain. Grant: £2m.

DriveSafeAI – lead partner Wayve Technologies, with University of Warwick – to develop a safety assurance framework for the safe deployment of AI in self-driving technology across all driving domains. Grant: £1.9m

Driven By Sound – lead partner Calyo, with Baro Vehicles – is a collaborative initiative to create a robust navigation system for automated vehicles, with a particular emphasis on adverse weather handling. Grant: £910,000.

evolvAD – lead partner Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK, with TRL, Humanising Autonomy, Connected Places Catapult, and SBD Automotive – to develop an AV capable of safely driving in residential, urban and rural environments. Grant: £2.3m.

High-Performance Imaging Radar (HPIR) – lead partner Aptcore, with Garfield Microelectronics, Plextek Services, and Cambridge Sensoriis – aims to develop a high-performance imaging radar specifically for AVs. Grant: £1.8m.

Photonic Inertial Sensors for Automotive (PISA) – lead partner Zero Point Motion, with WAE Technologies, University of the West of England, and the Royal Institute of Navigation – to leverage Micro Electromechanical Systems (MEMS), Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs), and low-cost laser/detectors to develop advanced position and navigation sensors. Grant: £1.4m.

Sim4CAMSens – lead partner Claytex Services, with University of Warwick, National Physical Laboratory, Syselek (UK), Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, rFpro, Oxford RF Solutions, and Techworkshub – to enable accurate representation of ADS sensors in simulation. Grant: £2m.

StreetCAV – lead partner Smart City Consultancy, with Dell Corporation, Milton Keynes Borough Council, and Ohmio UK – will create a ‘plug-and-play’ roadside connectivity solution for self-driving shuttles, robots and drone-based services. Grant: £1.8m.

Systems for Autonomy in Fail Operational Environments (SAFE) – lead partner Streetdrone, with Alcon Components, University Of Surrey, and Chassis Autonomy – will develop a fail operational drive-by-wire technology platform to enable safe SAE Level 4 autonomy. Grant: £1.2m.

Torque Overlay Automated Steering Technology (TOAST) – lead partners Titan Motorsport & Automotive Engineering, with Alexander Dennis, and TRL – will develop a modular dual redundant steer-by-wire system for heavily automated and electric vehicles. Grant: £760,000.

Quick on the draw with a press release, Alex Kendall, CEO of Wayve, said: “Leveraging AI, we have the chance to bring the benefits of self-driving vehicles to everyone’s door. But first, securing trust in AI is paramount. DriveSafeAI will give the public and policymakers confidence in this technology, which has the potential to revolutionise transport.”

Wayve self-driving car, 2023
Wayve self-driving car, 2023

Professor Siddartha Khastgir, Head of Verification & Validation at WMG, added: “AI and particularly embodied AIs like self-driving vehicles is one of the biggest disruptors for society. Deploying this technology safely is essential.”

Congratulations to all, particularly TOAST for the best acronym, and we will follow all of these exciting projects with great interest.

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Author: Neil Kennett

Neil is MD of Featurebank Ltd. He launched in 2019.