Cars of the Future self-driving event report: Zenzic CAM Innovators 2024

Enormous UK self-driving business opportunity: Zenzic CAM Innovators 2024

A perennial highlight of the self-driving calendar, mid-March means Zenzic Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) Innovators’ Day at the IET in London.

If 2022 celebrated the shared vision of societal benefits, and last year focused on global R&D leadership, CAM Innovators 2024 majored on the self-driving business case.

Keynote speakers

With Minister of State for the Investment Security Unit, Nusrat Ghani MP, as the first keynote speaker, there was an immediate sense that UK self-driving had truly arrived. Not in theory, but in Parliament, in international finance markets, and in providing quality services to the paying public.

In a short welcome speech, self-driving industry legend Prof. Paul Newman CBE, described the process of gaining National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approval for the Oxa Driver-powered Beep shuttles in Florida.

He highlighted the extraordinary progress in AI over the last three years, the importance of the AV Bill, and the need to progress beyond R&D to real-world issues like where to deploy.

He then introduced Ghani, who also focused on commercialisation. “Self-driving represents an enormous opportunity,” she said. “The AV Bill provides a comprehensive framework for British firms to lead the world in greener, safer and more reliable transport.”

Self-driving industry legend Prof. Paul Newman and Nusrat Ghani MP at Zenzic CAM Innovators 2024
Self-driving legend Prof. Paul Newman and Nusrat Ghani MP at Zenzic CAM Innovators 2024

Following a ‘fireside chat’ with Ghani covering the necessity to build trust and the role of local authorities, Newman then introduced the second keynote speaker: Sir John Armitt CBE, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Committee (NIC).

Sir John opened with the famous quote by Peter Drucker that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. He explained that the NIC exists to provide the UK government with impartial, expert advice on major long term infrastructure challenges. “The opportunities offered by these technologies are amazing,” he said, “and uncertainty should not be a reason to do nothing.”

Media huddle

Us journos were then whisked off for a ‘media huddle’ with the Minister, Sir John and Newman, at which we were encouraged to ask difficult questions.

Ok. So, how are hard-pressed local authorities expected to fund investment in self-driving services? What is the likely timescale for widespread UK rollout? Has the Cruise incident in America changed the thinking over here?

There was broad agreement that the commercial market doesn’t always work for essential public transport. Without putting a date on it, Newman likened self-driving adoption to water flowing downhill – it will quickly find its way and there will be countless second order effects.

Sir John Armitt CBE at Zenzic CAM Innovators 2024
Sir John Armitt CBE at Zenzic CAM Innovators 2024

Taking a helicopter view, Sir John pointed out that complexities were only to be expected in such technically advanced engineering, and that even Brunel delivered late and over budget!

Unfortunately, these media duties meant we missed the shaping regulation session, notably featuring George Ivanov, Head of International Policy at Waymo. He apparently expressed frustration at the lack of legislative progress in the UK and refused to be drawn on when Waymo might begin operating here.

Self-driving successes

After a short break, Mark Cracknell, Program Director at Zenzic, walked us through “12 months of success”, including the announcement of Cohort 4, the expansion of CAM Testbed UK (now including Catesby Tunnel and Tees Valley), and the launch of PAVE UK.

UK self-driving R&D facilities: CAM Testbed
UK self-driving R&D facilities: CAM Testbed

Alan Walker of Syselek then moderated a panel on developing the CAM supply chain featuring Dr. Martin Dürr of Dromos, Laura O’Neill of Belfast Harbour, Steven Russell of Stagecoach, and Steve Sutcliffe of Nissan – at least two more Self-Driving Industry Award winners there!

Dürr was the first, but not the last, speaker to praise CCAV and Zenzic for their commercial acumen. “We moved to the UK because of their support,” he said. “We are now close to our first deployment, are involved in an exciting project to revitalise old railways using the Dromos system, and are also looking at manufacturing our vehicles here.”

Next up, Agnessa Spanellis, senior lecturer in systems thinking at Edinburgh University, hosted a panel on trust and acceptance with Jonathan Smith of MFM, Ed Houghton of DG Cities, Gordon McCullough of the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC), and urban designer Helen Ng of Jacobs.

Although improved accessibility is one of the most frequently quoted benefits of self-driving, McCullough reported that the disabled community are already starting to feel excluded. This cannot be ignored and we will bring you more from the RiDC in the coming weeks.

Following a short morning wrap-up by Kate Jack, of Standec, it was lunchtime. Amidst intense networking, the fish and chips was undoubtedly the dish of choice.

Self-driving insurance

Far from a post-lunch lull, the afternoon kicked-off with probably the best panel of the day – on insurance. Charlotte Greenacre, of Thatcham Research, laid the groundwork. For starters, some insurers are now refusing to insure EVs, much of our legislation is “not fit for the modern world”, and that’s before we even get into the different liabilities.

Over to Jonathan Fong, of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), to moderate a panel featuring Matt Daley of rFpro, Chris Jones of Admiral Pioneer, Rebecca Marsden of Oxa, Sam Tiltman of Marsh, and Jamie Wilson of Alexander Dennis.

Self-driving insurance panel at Zenzic CAM Innovators 2024
Self-driving insurance panel at Zenzic CAM Innovators 2024

Wilson outlined the challenges of evaluating risk in the continually changing environment of a bus route, and the considerably more difficult task of doing similar for free-roaming cars.

“Insurance is mission critical in preparation for mass market adoption, and will look very different from personal lines,” said Marsden. Tiltman predicted that self-driving would “terraform” insurance over the next two decades, resulting in less accidents, less deaths and dramatically increased logistical efficiencies.

On the requirement in the AV Bill for data sharing in the event of an accident, Daley raised the enticing prospect of using simulation to literally show exactly what happened.

In the home straight now, Eman Martin-Vignerte, Government Affairs Director at Bosch UK, explained how a partnership with WeRide enabled them to develop a Level 4 car in just 18 months. The three key challenges now, she asserted, are complexity, homologation and scalability.

Self-driving commercialisation

The final panel of the day, “Getting the show on the road”, provided pleasing evidence of multiple viable UK self-driving businesses. Moderated by Amy Marshall of PA Consulting, it featured Miles Garner of Aurrigo, Jim Hutchinson of Fusion Processing, Ben Jardine of eVersum, Louise Lawrence of WSP, and Ian Pulford of Ohmio UK.

Not only a leader in self-driving passenger vehicle manufacturing, Coventry-based Aurrigo is enjoying commercial success in automated baggage handling, notably at the multi-award-winning Changi Airport in Singapore. “We now have paying customers, and we thank Innovate, CCAV and Zenzic for their help in getting us here,” said Garner.

Fusion, of course, provided software to our reigning Self-Driving Vehicle of the Year champion, CAVForth, which has already given tens of thousands of passengers their first taste of self-driving public transport in Scotland. “The next step is taking out the safety driver and moving to commercial success,” said Hutchinson.

Summarising the info-packed day, former Minister of State for Digital and Creative Industries, now executive chair at WMG, Margot James, reflected on the ability of CAM to improve safety and “bring about a more inclusive society”. She emphasised the urgent need to pass the AV Bill to enable UK self-driving to flourish.

We certainly hope that will be in place by this time next year, for CAM Innovators 2025. In the meantime, let’s finish with this intriguing snapshot – traffic on the Embankment as we arrived at the IET for CAM Innovators 2023, when there was a tube strike, and this year. Spot the difference!

Traffic on the Embankment for CAM Innovators 2023 and 2024
Traffic on the Embankment for CAM Innovators 2023 and 2024

For more on accelerating the self-driving revolution, and to apply for CAM Scale-up Cohort 5, visit the Zenzic website.

Expressions of Interest window opens for Zenzic CAM Scale-Up UK 2024/25

Up to £100k grants for Zenzic CAM Scale-Up UK 2024/25 winners

Zenzic is incentivising entries for CAM Scale-Up UK 2024/25 with the promise of up to £100,000 in government funding for each successful applicant.

Backed by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), the prestigious programme has already supported 22 UK self-driving start-ups and SMEs since 2020.

Mark Cracknell, Programme Director at Zenzic, said: “To ensure we remain at the front of the global race to develop the autonomous and connected transport solutions of tomorrow, it is vital that we continue to support the bright minds and innovative SMEs who play a key role in developing and deploying such solutions, which is why we’d encourage any business from an automotive or tech background with an idea of how they could help drive the sector forward to get in touch and find out more.”

CAM Scale-Up Winner

Lisa Layzell, CEO of self-driving pothole filling robot provider Robotiz3d – one of the winning Cohort 4 companies – is full of praise for the programme, saying: “Being part of CAM Scale-Up UK connected us to major players in the CAM industry and opened doors for us coming into 2024. It also helped us access world-leading testing facilities where we could test in as near to a real-world environment as possible.”

On track at Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) Testbed UK, 2022
On track at CAM Testbed UK, 2022

The ‘Expressions of Interest’ window opened yesterday (12 February 2024), with the Cohort 5 winners due to be announced in August.

For further info please visit the Zenzic website or email [email protected]

We celebrate our 5th birthday with a refresh and a look back at our self-driving journey to date.

Driverless to self-driving: Happy 5th birthday Cars of the Future

Thanks to Linkedin for reminding us that we’ve been providing news and views about all things self-driving for five whole years now. Happy 5th birthday Cars of the Future!

To celebrate, the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that we’ve treated ourselves to a bit of a refresh – technical upgrades, recategorised content and updated terminology.

We’ve also picked five of our favourite stories from the archives – one for each year – which can be seen as a journey from the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ towards the ‘Slope of Self-driving Enlightenment’.

Self-driving 2019-2024

The self-driving story that sparked Cars of the Future
The self-driving story that sparked Cars of the Future

2018/19 We have to begin with my Autonomous now: the shift to self-driving feature for the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI). My editor at the time, Tim Kiek, said: “I’ve featured articles on autonomous vehicles throughout my tenure but never one which explores the topic with such forensic rigour.”

Following passionate but often misinformed feedback from lovers, haters and inbetweeners, we saw an urgent need for a new UK-centric self-driving news source. Cars of the Future was born! The full 2,600-word version of Autonomous Now was our first post.

Cars of the Future joins the Zenzic self-driving revolution
Cars of the Future joins the Zenzic self-driving revolution

2020 While the Covid 19 pandemic was raging and we were all in lockdown getting our heads around Zoom, we were delighted to be recognised as a Zenzic CAM Creator. We decided it would be interesting to find out what other CAM Creators did… and that proved to be a very fortunate decision. It began a series of popular long-form interviews which continues to this day. Significantly, it really broadened our content, from ‘cars, cars, cars’ to CAM.

The very first of these CAM Creator interviews was with Clem Robertson of R4dar, now part of Angoka: “Fighter pilots use five different methods of identification before engaging a potential bogey, and the autonomous vehicle world is doing similar with lidar, radar, digital mapping etc. Each has its shortcomings but together they create a more resilient system.”

Millbrook test-bed
Millbrook test-bed

2021 As the pandemic continued to dominate, we signed multiple media partnership agreements, notably with Reuters Events. These saw me moderating high profile panel discussions on everything from ADAS to clean fuel and, of course, self-driving.

At a Small Cells Forum virtual event, we met Peter Stoker, Chief Engineer at Millbrook Proving Ground, leading to this deep dive into both real-world and virtual testing: “The key to the future of self-driving is education, education, education – for everyone, the public, vehicle manufacturers, the aftermarket, recovery operators…”

Oxa's groundbreaking zero occupancy self-driving vehicle
Oxa’s groundbreaking zero occupancy self-driving vehicle

2022 The welcome return of face-to-face meetings and live events -press launches, trade shows and industry conferences. We renewed our deal with Reuters for Auto Tech and signed further similar agreements, including with London EV Show and MOVE. In April, we published our first newsletter – the top story was on project CAVForth.

Meanwhile, Cruise began charging for self-driving rides in San Francisco. Here, Oxbotica (soon to be Oxa) conducted the first zero-occupancy, self-driving, electric vehicle test on public roads in Europe: “An historic moment for the UK, the transport and logistics sector, and autonomous vehicle technology”, said CTO (soon to be CBE) Professor Paul Newman.

Self-driving Industry Awards 2023

2023 saw Cars of the Future website visitors, newsletter subscribers and social numbers almost double. We renewed our partnership with MOVE (which saw me host the AV stage), were invited to the Self-Driving All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), and organised the inaugural Self-driving Industry Awards.

CAVForth won the headline Vehicle of the Year Award. Other big winners (nominated by their industry peers) included Alex Kendall of Wayve, Rebecca Posner of CCAV and Oxa’s Newman. It was the best day in the history of Cars of the Future to date.

As ever, our mission remains: To chart the development of, and encourage sensible debate about, all aspects of self-driving. We’ll soon be announcing details of the Self-driving Industry Awards 2024, and we’ve got other exciting new projects in the pipeline too. Watch this space!

Cars of the Future 2024
Cars of the Future 2024

A huge thank you for all your support and here’s to the next five years!

DfT and CCAV publish two new reports on self-driving public engagement

Not 1 but 2 DfT reports on The Great Self-Driving Exploration

In summer 2023, The Department for Transport (DfT) and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) published two new reports on The Great Self-Driving Exploration.

Last year, in partnership with Thinks Insight & Strategy, University College London (UCL) and Aurrigo, they held a series of large-scale public engagement events in areas of the country where there had previously been little or no engagement with self-driving vehicles.

The aim was to study public perceptions towards, and effective communication about, self-driving. We ran a story at the time on The Great Self-Driving Exploration in Taunton.

DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report - citizen view of self-driving technology, 2023
DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report – citizen view of self-driving technology, 2023

Self-driving citizen view

The first report, “A citizen view of self-driving technology in future transport systems”, largely analysed the responses from a “high exposure audience” of 177 participants, who took part in a three-week programme of “deliberative engagement”, including pre- and post-ride surveys.

Further feedback came from “medium exposure” and “low exposure” audiences, of 450 and 250 participants respectively.

In workshops, the high exposure participants were shown educational videos on various aspects of self-driving. They featured, among others, Rebecca Posner of CCAV, Camilla Fowler of Oxbotica (now Oxa), Siddartha Khastgir of WMG, Jessica Uguccioni of the Law Commission, Dr Nick Reed of Reed Mobility, Brian Matthews of Milton Keynes Council, Steve Gooding of the RAC Foundation, Tom Cohen of the University of Westminster, David Sharp of Ocado, Martin Griffiths of Stagecoach Group, Colin Robertson of Alexander Dennis, Jim Hutchinson of Fusion Processing, and Waymo – familiar names to regular Cars of the Future readers.

The participants were then asked to design an advert to describe self-driving vehicles (SDVs) to the public. As an aside, being pedants, we note a battle with software-defined vehicles for the SDV acronym. Anyway…

The report found: “Given the generally positive attitude towards SDVs [self-driving vehicles], the information campaigns and adverts designed by participants overwhelmingly focused on communicating the potential benefits of introducing SDVs rather than any of their concerns.

“Broadly speaking, to effectively improve awareness of SDVs it was seen as necessary to communicate their advantages over and above traditional human-driven vehicles.

“Using information campaigns and adverts to normalise the concept of SDVs, either as privately owned vehicles or as part of shared or public transport provision, was considered important.”

Familiarity with self-driving increased significantly among the high exposure participants, with 68% saying they knew ‘a fair amount’ by the end of the research, compared to just 11% at the outset.

In particular, these participants felt they had a better understanding of the ‘rules’ for using self-driving vehicles. However, there were still areas of potential confusion, such as what level of autonomy is currently legal on UK roads.

DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report - wordcloud
DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report – wordcloud

In a welcome repeat of the PAVE findings in America – “we like to put on demonstration events to demystify the technology and the good news is that knowledge and experience change attitudes”- participant ‘comfort’ increased during The Great Self-Driving Exploration process, both in terms of using self-driving vehicles and sharing roads with them.

As to how best to communicate with the public, the research concluded that the top five key themes are:

  1. Safety – both improved road safety and reassurance on self-driving vehicle safety.
  2. Reliability and security – especially the balancing of AI technology and human backup.
  3. Accessibility – promoting mobility for all.
  4. Shared – improved public transport and the environmental benefits of fewer private car journeys.
  5. Costs – being cheaper than the existing options is a powerful message.

Self-driving emotional responses

DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report - Understanding emotional responses to self-driving, 2023
DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report – Understanding emotional responses to self-driving, 2023

The second, more technical, report, “Understanding emotional responses to self-driving vehicles: Findings from the EEG study”, measured excitement and stress using an electrophysiological process to record participants’ brain activity. The headlines were…

On “medium to high levels of Engagement, Excitement and Interest”, that participants “have a degree of affinity with the task and tended to have more positive emotional responses to the technology.”

On “lower scores for Focus, Stress and Relaxation”, that participants “were relatively comfortable with the experience despite its novelty”.

And “as participants become more familiar with the technology the more immediate and emotional reactions, both positive or negative subside”.

Interestingly, males tended to show higher levels of ‘Excitement’ than females when on the shuttle, while the opposite was seen for the pod.

The report concluded: “These differences will have implications on both engineering and policy choices to help mitigate certain emotional states if self-driving vehicles become more widespread. The changes in emotional state observed throughout a journey also suggest the value of providing members of the public with the opportunity to trial the technology.”

Together, these two reports provide important insights into the expectations of the UK public in relation to self-driving – a valuable contribution to this fast-growing ecosystem.

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

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.

Reva2’s “more humble” self-driving concept uses painted lines embedded with RFID chips.

Allez les blue lines! France’s Reva2 offers simpler self-driving

Matthias Vanoni, acting CEO at Reva2, on plans to put on-demand self-driving pods on the streets of Nice, in the south of France, by 2025… using clever blue lines.

Matthias Vanoni, acting CEO of French self-driving company Reva2
Matthias Vanoni, acting CEO of French self-driving project Reva2

“We have problems with cars, in that there are too many of them in our cities, bringing pollution, traffic jams and parking space shortages,” he said.

“One solution is to switch from everyone having a personal car to mobility as a service (MAAS). We saw the success of Uber in that direction. But still, it’s costly, and the driver represents around 70% of the cost.

Affordable self-driving

“Electric self-driving cars can bring affordable mobility to the masses, driving a massive transition away from personal vehicles. Withdrawing a lot of the cars from cities means less co2 emissions and less traffic, much better from a climate change point of view.

“The traditional car manufacturers talk about making their cars drive themselves anytime, anywhere. They have spent hundreds of billions pushing for level five autonomy, and it has not been successful.

“Look at the comments of people like Anthony Levandowski (formerly of Google’s Waymo). It’s too big a moonshot to have self-driving cars everywhere.

“That’s why the founder of Reva2, Raoul Parienti, came up with this more humble idea: The Blue Line System. Limit self-driving to the city and do it using a blue line painted onto the road, embedded with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips for positioning.”

Video: Reva2’s self-driving solution

“This way you no longer need GPS or artificial intelligence,” he continued. “You reduce it to one dimension – you ask the car to follow the blue line, like a tramway. It is an infinitely simpler solution, and the cars can synchronise into a vehicle train using secure wireless connections. 

“We had the patent for that in 2007. From 2022, we have a new patent allowing the car to follow digital lines. An advantage being that this covers the blue line being distorted or covered by snow.

“Make a Reva2 booking on your smartphone and a vehicle will come to you automatically, within minutes, and drop you at your desired destination.

“We have partnered with a specialised concept car company in the south of France to make the first six cars. We also have another partner for delivering the first 12km of blue lines.”

Reva2 self-driving vehicle train
Reva2 self-driving vehicle train

Nice self-driving

“The mayor of Nice is very much an ambassador for our solution, and we are in discussion with the French government and others to get funding in place to launch a pilot there.

“The plan is for this phase to be completed by the end of 2026, and then we industrialise. The Nice metropolis has a population of around half a million people, so the full solution would involve around 7,500 cars.

“We are already in discussion with larger French cities, like Marseille, too, and beyond that we will look at licences to operate in other countries, such as the UK.”

For further info see

Introducing the inaugural Self-driving Industry Awards…

Celebrate automated mobility! Entries open now for the Self-driving Industry Awards 2023

Celebrating excellence in automated mobility, in the UK and internationally, entries are open now for the inaugural Self-driving Industry Awards.

Presented by Cars of the Future, the Self-driving Industry Awards 2023 cover all aspects of this exciting and fast-growing ecosystem.

From impressive engineering and design developments, to essential work in areas such as insurance and public trust, peer recognition plays an important part, with all entrants nominating a self-driving Person of the Year and Vehicle of the Year.

A Self-driving Industry Awards spokesperson said: “If you’ve made a telling contribution to self-driving – launched the world’s best robotaxi or last-mile delivery robot, made a technological leap, or provided incredible thought leadership – then you should be entering these awards.”

The deadline for entries is 5pm UK-time on Friday 29 September 2023, with all shortlisted candidates receiving an invitation to the Awards ceremony in November.

For further info, including a full list of the award categories, please visit #SDIA23

From car sharing to emissions-based parking, Anne Snelson is one of the UK’s leading experts in transport carbon literacy – can self-driving help?

Can self-driving help cut emissions and congestion?

Delivering on our promise to focus more on the environmental impacts of self-driving, we talk congestion, emissions and car sharing with Anne Snelson, founder of Lead With Sustainability

We were alerted to Anne’s fantastic work by motoring journalist Quentin Willson, who highlighted her challenge to LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky to promote new (rather disturbing) research into soaring Atlantic surface temperatures. In June, she reposted Dr Matthias Standfest’s prediction that “hurricanes, wildfires, heatwaves and droughts will shape the news of the next months”.

Since then, we’ve seen the dire consequences of climate change from Athens to Texas, the go-ahead for more oil and gas extraction in the North Sea, and Labour blaming the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for its by-election loss in Uxbridge. Oh, and July was officially the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.

NK: How did you come to specialise in carbon literacy?

AS: “Gosh, it has been quite a journey! I was a policy researcher at the AA in the 1990s, looking at things like car sharing and ways to encourage motorists to cycle. Then I was at Vodafone for a while. Then I was marketing manager at RingGo for many years, which included rolling-out an award-winning emissions-based parking solution.

“In 2009, the Liberal Democrat-led council in Richmond made a commitment to reduce emissions, so we worked with them to introduce carbon metered parking, whereby the price varies according to the emissions emitted by the vehicle in question. It had a significant impact, encouraging a transfer to electric vehicles (even though they were much less developed than they are today), and reducing the unnecessary use of larger vehicles. The scheme went on to be rolled-out in Westminster, resulting in a 16% drop in the use of diesel vehicles virtually overnight.

“After stints at EV network Co Charger and traffic monitoring company VivaCity, about two years ago, I made a life changing decision. I was obviously aware of the science around climate change, so my daughter kept asking me what I was going to do about it. The answer was to train in carbon literacy and offer my services as a consultant in the transport arena. That’s Lead With Sustainability.”

NK: What does it involve and how’s it all going?

AS: “The feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive. Most importantly, it is leading to actions, making a real difference. We encourage businesses to look at their emissions and see where they can cut them. What’s the point in making money, owning big houses and travelling the world if there’s nowhere for our children and grandchildren to live?

“As well as the climate emergency, there’s the practical day-to-day problem that much of our road network is constantly on the verge of gridlock. So, we push the move to electric and also the fact that we simply must reduce car use.

“Good public transport is part of the solution, as is active travel. We also look at smart city ideas like 15-minute neighbourhoods – having everything you need within easy reach. That involves tackling thorny issues such as car ownership and car sharing.

“First, there has to be the provision, and then you have to incentivise people to make the switch. For example, with separate lanes for multi-occupancy vehicles. If alternative modes are faster and cheaper then people will naturally change their behaviours.”

Lead With Sustainability carbon literacy training testimonial

NK: And what role can self-driving play?

AS: “Connectivity can bring about changes even before we get to the higher levels of driving automation. Software could give Mr Jones the option of picking up Mr Smith, who is just round the corner and going to the same place, and that choice could be incentivised.

“A potentially negative scenario with self-driving is you could have lots of empty vehicles driving around causing further congestion. That’s arguably worse than having a big SUV with only the driver in it, which, ridiculously, you still see all the time. The increasing size of luxury vehicles is another issue.

“In London, a high percentage of people have already given up their cars, because they’re so expensive and inefficient. I accept that step might be more difficult for others, such as those living in rural areas, due to the lack of a viable alternative. But sometimes all you need is a change in attitude. I live in a medium sized commuter town and I’ve given up my car. It’s easier for some than others though.

“We’re working with local authorities and businesses of all shapes and sizes to educate people about these issues, to raise awareness of UK and international climate policies, to make people realise they can change the world for the better by reducing greenhouse gases.

“Particularly within councils, we encourage people to break out of their silos. A major problem is that, very often, parking is still separate from air quality, which is separate from highways, with little discussion between these divisions.

“Without major changes in the way we live, we’re heading for some pretty hard times. Fortunately, cities such as Glasgow and Nottingham already have ambitious carbon zero targets. Evolving technologies like clean fuel buses, self-driving or otherwise, will be part of that. My aim is to motivate people to reduce emissions at a personal, community and business level. And, in the process, they’ll save money too.”

Lead With Sustainability transport factsheet- can self-driving help
Lead With Sustainability transport factsheet- can self-driving help?

For further info, to download a free factsheet, or to book an online Carbon Literacy Training session, visit

Zenzic CAM Scale-Up cohort 4: Gamma, Helix, Megasets, Reed and Robotiz3d

Zenzic announces pioneering CAM Scale-Up 2023 winners

In July, Zenzic announced the latest five companies to receive support via its prestigious CAM Scale-Up UK programme.

The cohort 4 winners are, in alphabetical order: Gamma Energy; Helix Geospace; Megasets; Reed Mobility; and Robotiz3d.

In brief

Gamma specialises in renewable energy and is a partner in the Project Cambridge Connector on-demand self-driving taxi trial.

Helix develops antennas and array systems to improve navigation precision and offer enhanced resilience against jamming and spoofing. 

Shortlisted last year, Megasets has now successfully won backing to develop its AV synthetic datasets.

Reed Mobility, recognised as a Zenzic CAM Creator back in 2020 (along with a certain self-driving news source), is the independent expert consultancy on future mobility run by Dr Nick Reed.

Last but not least, Robotiz3d is developing robots with machine learning capabilities for road maintenance, particularly fixing potholes.

CAM: Robotiz3d self-driving pothole fixer
Robotiz3d self-driving pothole fixer

CAM innovation

A Zenzic statement read: “These pioneering companies have demonstrated remarkable potential in the field of connected and automated mobility (CAM), and we are excited to support their journey towards bringing their innovative solutions to the market.​

“Their participation in the Zenzic CAM Scale-Up UK programme will provide them with unique opportunities to test and refine their products at the renowned CAM Testbed UK facilities, ensuring their solutions meet the highest standards of performance and safety.​

“We eagerly anticipate witnessing the incredible progress and achievements of these selected start-ups and SMEs as they contribute to the self-driving revolution in the UK and beyond.​”

With big-name corporate partners including Honda, Thales and Vodafone, their work will be celebrated at the showcase CAM Innovators event in March 2024 – you can read our review of this year’s event here.

For further info visit

Neil Kennett MOVE 2023 event review – self-driving, software-defined, clean fuel and more…

Self-driving at MOVE 2023: renewed focus on environmental impacts

MOVE, “The world’s most important urban mobility event”, returned to London last week with two action packed days at the ExCeL centre.

As well as moderating the software defined vehicle panel, and seeing a vast array of amazing new self-driving-related tech from established multinationals and innovative start-ups, it was my pleasure to host the morning session on the Autonomous Vehicles stage.

MOVE Pledge 2023

Let’s start with my #MOVE2023 pledge. The organisers ask all speakers to make “a concrete pledge towards safer, smarter and more sustainable mobility”, for which we can be held accountable at next year’s event. In this pre-event piece I mused that I might just repeat my pledge from last year. Actually, I didn’t.

My all-new MOVE pledge for this year is two-fold: To encourage people to read David Attenborough’s bestselling book – A Life on Our Planet – which is brilliant and quite scary; and to focus more on the environmental impacts of self-driving – an under-researched area with competing theories – some highly negative, some highly positive.

Neil Kennett #MOVE2023 self-driving pledge
Neil Kennett #MOVE2023 self-driving pledge

It is designed to remind myself (and you) that it is up to us to bring about the changes essential to avert ecological disaster. Taking my own advice, I met up with Jessica Battle, senior expert in global ocean policy and lead on the No Deep Seabed Mining Initiative at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – watch this space.

Self-driving stage

Our first speaker in Theatre 2 was Mark Cracknell, of Zenzic, who focussed on the role of SMEs in the connected and automated mobility ecosystem. He highlighted the world-leading projects funded via CCAV’s Commercialising CAM competition, asserting that no other country will have a greater breadth of self-driving services on the road by 2025.

It was standing room only for our next speaker, Dr Joanna White, Roads Development Director at National Highways, who set out plans to future-proof the UK’s road network for AVs. She highlighted the success of the HumanDrive project, and the fantastically-named Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Infrastructure Appraisal Readiness (CAVIAR) project.

Dr Joanna White, Roads Development Director at National Highways, at #MOVE2023
Dr Joanna White, of National Highways, at #MOVE2023

The first panel of the day saw Zeina Nazer, of Cities Forum, discussing new strategies for the safe deployment of ADAS and autonomous tech with Dr Nick Reed, in his role as chief road safety advisor to National Highways, and The Law Commission’s Nicholas Paines QC.

Paines noted that the three-year review of legislation to enable the deployment of automated vehicles on British roads was the first time the Commission had been asked to design a law for the future.

In response to a question from the audience, he also clarified that data protection was excluded from the terms of reference, instead being covered by GDPR.

They went on to cover the potential role of remote driving and the importance of public acceptance, with Reed highlighting the Vision Zero strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries.

Jayesh Jagasia, of the AI in Automotive podcast, then took over hosting, including introducing the aforementioned “Embracing the SDV: Welcome to life in the software defined lane” panel.

Moderated by my good self, it featured: Patrick Blume, Head of Product for Urban Mobility at Mercedes-Benz; John Wall, Senior Vice-President at BlackBerry and head of its QNX system; and Marcus Welz, Vice President of Smart Mobility at Hyundai Motor Europe. A pertinent fact is that BlackBerry QNX is now embedded in over 235 million vehicles worldwide.

We only had 25 minutes, but we crammed a lot in, delving into cybersecurity, common codebase, OTA updates, verification and validation, changing car sales models, in-car personalisation, smart city connectivity, MAAS, ADAS and self-driving.

Serious points included Wall outlining the ability to refresh cars already on the road, the huge investments in what Blume described as the race for a competitive advantage, and Welz revealing an initiative to encourage Hyundai staff into multi-modal transport. Now that’s progressive!

Lighter moments included Welz describing the shift to self-driving as “a transition to The Jetsons

We ended on the ability of near-future software-defined vehicles to reduce road traffic collisions, and therefore RTC fatalities and injuries, by up to 80% – oft-quoted maybe, but impressive, game-changing and thoroughly commendable nonetheless. My thanks to Max Kadera of MOVE and Lee the sound guy.

With moderating duties duly performed, I headed out into the arena, catching up with contacts old and new – Barbara Fitzsimons of Zenzic, Gunny Dhadyalla of AESIN, Karla Jakeman of TRL, Nick Fleming of BSI, Ben Loewenstein of Waymo and the IMI’s Mark Armitage.

ACES opinions

As IMI CEO Steve Nash noted: “MOVE represents the entire ACES (autonomous, connected, electric and shared) piece. You turn up with one opinion and have to moderate it after listening to all the different speakers.”

There were big eye-catching displays by business electric car subscription firm EZoo, ZF – with its Araiv Shuttle, powered by Oxa (formerly Oxbotica) – and HGV manufacturer Hydrogen Vehicle Systems. HVS are apparently talking to Fusion Processing (of CAVForth fame) about software – you heard it here first!

Hydrogen Vehicle Systems (HVS) at #MOVE2023
Hydrogen Vehicle Systems (HVS) at #MOVE2023

Further intriguing snippets included Teragence CEO Christian Rouffaert on their mobile connectivity data, Alex Bainbridge of Autoura on expansion in the US, Amir Tirosh of StoreDot on how their new EV fast charging delivers consistently better quality in record time, Sandip Gangakhedkar of Fetch on the expansion of their remote driving car delivery trial – now open to the public across Milton Keynes – and Dr Martin Dürr, of Dromos, on talks with city authorities around the world, particularly in the UK and US.

We’re already looking forward to #MOVE2024, at ExCeL again, on 19-20 June next year. In the meantime, we have our own event planned…

Cars of the Future flyer for #MOVE2023 mentioned a self-driving event
Our Cars of the Future flyer for #MOVE2023 mentioned a self-driving event…