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Technology / AI and automation

UK government awards £38m to self driving cars and autonomous vehicles

The UK is gearing up for autonomous cars as the government awards £38 million in funding for autonomous vehicle projects. Included in this is one group of British companies who have announced their aims to trial autonomous cars on UK motorways by 2019.

The new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) has disseminated this fund between several leading projects in order to ensure that the UK achieves a position as a leader in the autonomous vehicle market.

Part of this new consortia will include the Driven Group, led by Oxford Artificial Intelligence (AI) specialists, Oxbotica, which hopes to trial a fleet of autonomous cars on main roads between London and Oxford. The consortium currently benefits from an £8.6 million grant from the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, and will spend the next 30 months developing autonomous cars.

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Dr Graeme Smith, Chief Executive of Oxbotica, said: “Today’s news is truly ground-breaking. No company, group or consortium of autonomy experts has ever attempted what DRIVEN is planning over the next 30-months.”

“We are seeking to address some of the most fundamental challenges preventing the future commercial deployment of fully autonomous vehicles. I have full confidence in DRIVEN’s world-leading and internationally respected team of specialists to deliver this project.”

The Driven Group also hopes that the vehicles deployed will achieve level 4 autonomy, meaning that they will be capable of completing an entire trip without passengers, whilst remaining safe and monitoring the road for other cars. Currently no other project in the world has attempted this level of autonomy before.

One of the main focuses of these new trials will be how connected cars could radically alter the current state of automotives, including insurance costs, how the vehicles interact with smart cities, and even cyber security and data protection.

The project will utilise six vehicles that will be capable of communicating with each other and their environment using Oxbotica’s cutting edge OEM software, Selenium.

Professor Paul Newman, Head of the Oxford Robotics Institute, Oxford, and Oxbotica founder, said: “DRIVEN is the first of its kind and brings a host of new questions surrounding the way these vehicles will communicate with each other. We’re moving from the singleton autonomous vehicle, to fleets of autonomous vehicles – and what’s interesting to us at the Oxford Robotics Institute is what data the vehicles share with one another, when, and why.”

The 30 month project is expected to begin this month.
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