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Funding for UK Driverless Transit Projects Secured

16 February 2023

£81 million in funding has been granted to projects across the UK aiming to develop driverless buses, taxis and lorries.

The investments include zero-emission HGV trials for Asda, plus a similar mission for Nissan HGVs carrying Vantec car parts, and a variety of shuttle systems.

"Plans for driverless buses still look a long way off and, from what GMB has been told, will require a human worker on board,” said National Secretary Andy Prendergast.

Career security is required for the workers involved, implores the concerned GMB union as representatives for bus drivers.

“Any increased automation in any industry must come with cast iron guarantees for the workforce affected,” Andy continued, “as well impenetrable public safeguards if it wants to succeed."


"This is a massive opportunity to drive forward our priority to grow the economy, which we are determined to seize,"


– Grant Shapps
Business Secretary


Pushing Ahead with New Job Opportunities


Automated vehicle hubs are planned for Solihull and Coventry – also chosen is a self-driving taxi trial in Cambridge, as well as a shuttle to Sunderland’s university and hospital courtesy of Stagecoach, Newcastle University and others.

Only recently did Sunderland’s bus service resume its full timetable when strikes were concluded with a new pay agreement for drivers.

"This is a massive opportunity to drive forward our priority to grow the economy, which we are determined to seize," said Business Secretary Grant Shapps. He think self-driving vehicles "could add tens of billions to our economy and create tens of thousands of jobs" within just a few years.


Enabling Communities


In return for the funding, the companies running the seven major projects - fully detailed below - will be expected to evidence the commercial sustainability of their services by 2025.

The £42m awarded by the government, through the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) competition, will be match-funded by industry to reach £81m.


  • CAVForth II – Fusion Processing

This project received £10.4 million and will allow Stagecoach to launch what is believed to be the world’s most complex full-sized automated bus service, running along a 14 mile route, and building on a pilot project that is nearing completion. This project will test and refine the commercial service model, from the current ‘Captained’ service, with a staff member onboard, to future deployments with smaller vehicles which could operate with no staff on board. This comes after the trial of the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus via this same collaboration, which we reported on in May 2022. Watch our video for a rundown of the initial pilot project. Project partners include: Stagecoach Group PLC, Alexander Dennis Limited, University of the West of England, and Edinburgh Napier University.


  • V-CAL – North East Automotive Alliance

V-CAL has received £8 million to scale and expand the initial, part government-funded 5G CAL proof of concept, by deploying connected and automated logistics (CAL) technology at scale in two real-world, industrial settings.

The first is replacing all heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) on a trial route on private land with zero-emission HGVs retrofitted with CAL technology. The second is a challenging public road route where the self-driving HGV will encounter traffic lights, roundabouts, security gates, bridges and other road users. Project partners include: Vantec, Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK (NMUK), StreetDrone, Nokia, Newcastle University, ANGOKA, and Womble Bond Dickinson (UK).


  • Hub2Hub – HVS

This project will use the £13.2 million awarded to deliver an all-new automated HGV for the UK market. HVS’ innovative HGV will decarbonise one of the biggest polluting sectors on our roads, working in partnership with Fusion Processing Ltd to expedite the development of Hub-to-Hub autonomous driving technology with Fusion’s automated drive systems, delivering never-seen-before levels of efficiency and operational cost savings for logistics operators, as well as providing new employment opportunities.

The deployment trial of the autonomous HGV, planned for September 2024, will demonstrate this service for a leading retailer to elevate public perception, showcasing the potential autonomy can deliver thanks to increased safety and fuel savings, and develop new business models. Project partners include: Asda Stores Limited and Fusion Processing Ltd.


  • Sunderland Advanced Mobility Shuttle – City of Sunderland Council

£6 million for this project will support to research, build, trial and evaluate the deployment of a highly automated, remotely supervised, zero-emission passenger mobility service in the City of Sunderland. This will increase connectivity between a key transport interchange (bus, rail and metro) and two high-volume destinations: the University of Sunderland City Campus and Sunderland Royal Hospital. Project partners include: Stagecoach North East, ANGOKA Ltd, Aurrigo (Richmond Design and Marketing Ltd), Newcastle University, Swansea University, and BAI Communications.


  • Project Harlander – Belfast Harbour

The £11 million funded Harlander project will establish Northern Ireland’s first operationally ready, scalable, and commercially viable deployment of a fully automated shuttle service on mixed-use public roads. The service will utilise a ground-breaking, multi-purpose automated vehicle that enables a cost-effective scaling of passenger services and the introduction of a goods delivery service. Project partners include: Horiba MIRA Ltd, ANGOKA Ltd, BT Ltd, and REE Automotive UK Ltd. The engagement with aforesaid project partners is subject to a consortium collaboration agreement, which is expected to be signed soon.


  • Multi-Area Connected Automated Mobility – Conigital

£8.3 million awarded by government, matched by industry to a total £16.4 million. This project looks to establish a self-driving vehicle operation around various parts of the West Midlands, underpinned by a centralised, Remote Monitoring Teleoperation (RMTO) centre. The RMTO centre will be where the project’s self-driving vehicles are monitored and (when required) controlled from, using 5G connectivity. The project aims to make self-driving vehicle operations commercially viable, and offset current technology and driver costs. Project partners include: National Exhibition Centre Ltd, Direct Line Group, Coventry City Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, University of Warwick, Coventry University, dRisk AI, IPG Automotive and West Midlands Combined Authority


  • Project Cambridge Connector – Greater Cambridge Partnership

£8.7 million awarded by government, matched by industry to a total £17.4 million. The Cambridge project will pilot on-demand self-driving vehicles. Up to 13 electric vehicles will provide passenger services that integrate with existing transport services within Cambridge across two sites: Cambridge University’s West Cambridge Campus and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

The lead partner Greater Cambridge Partnership is the local delivery body for a City Deal with central government, and working in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and University of Cambridge. Project partners include: dRisk AI Ltd, Stagecoach East, IPG Automotive UK, Conigital Ltd and Gamma Energy as well as the Greater Cambridge Partnership.


A total of £586,000 is also being awarded to four related transit infrastructure projects through the competition.


Picture: a graphic for the competition, stating "commercial self-driving vehicles by 2025, funded by new £40 million competition". Image credit: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 16 February 2023


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