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UK government adds to autonomous vehicle funding

Members of the fifth connected vehicle technology development cohort given potential to receive funding from UK government to aid creation of services that could power self-driving vehicles

The UK government has committed to funding more autonomous vehicle projects under its Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) Scale-Up UK Programme.

The CAM was launched by the UK government in 2020 to help startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) accelerate the development of services that could power the self-driving vehicles of tomorrow. It’s being delivered by Zenzic, a collaborative organisation that aims to place the UK at the forefront of global connected vehicle development by enabling UK organisations to make significant contributions to the future of mobility. The scheme is supported by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), designed to help British companies seize early opportunities to develop experimental projects into offerings ready for the market.

The UK government said this could revolutionise public transport and passenger travel, better connect rural communities, and reduce road collisions caused by human error. The government cited research predicting that 40% of new UK car sales by 2035 will have self-driving capabilities, with a total market value for connected and automated mobility worth £41.7bn to the UK, creating nearly 40,000 skilled jobs in connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology.

In partnership with the CCAV Plug and Play, the Zenzic CAM Scale-Up UK Programme focuses on giving startups and slam businesses the opportunity to test their products and services in realistic environments across the CAM Testbed UK facilities, significantly accelerating their delivery to market.

The programme was launched by the UK government in 2020, and since then, a total of 22 businesses have had their projects supported through the programme, which has led to the development of autonomous passenger and freight offerings, radar technology to help vehicles navigate extreme weather, and artificial intelligence-enabled perception systems.

“Since its launch in 2020, the CAM Scale-Up UK Programme has helped accelerate the development of numerous solutions which have helped advance the CAM ecosystem and position the UK as a world leader in the development of connected and automated mobility solutions,” said Zenzic programme director Mark Cracknell.

“But to ensure we remain at the front of the global race to develop the autonomous and connected transport solutions of tomorrow, it’s 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.”

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Now preparing for its fifth year, the programme is again looking for startups to take advantage of the CAM opportunity in the UK, with businesses urged to apply to join the programme and apply for funding as part of the 2024 cohort. Each member of the fifth CAM Scale-Up UK cohort will receive up to £100,000 in UK government grant funding.

One project that has been supported by the programme is the development of what is claimed to be the world’s first self-driving, pothole-filling robot, which made headlines across the globe last month when the first videos were released of it in action. Developed by tech company Robotiz3d and academics at the University of Liverpool, in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council highways engineers, the CAM Scale-Up UK-backed robot will be trialled on roads in Hertfordshire this year, in what is described as a world-first.

“Being part of the CAM Scale-Up UK programme connected us to major players in CAM industry and opened doors for us coming into 2024,” said Robotiz3d CEO Lisa Layzell. “It also helped us access world-leading testing facilities where we could test ARRES Prevent in as near to a real-world environment as possible to prove its feasibility. It’s this in-depth support and access to world-leading experts which – alongside the funding – has really helped us accelerate the development of our work and move into a position where we can move to trials on public roads later this year.”

Companies interested in applying for the CAM Scale-Up UK Programme are encouraged to email [email protected].

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