UK launches new project to become leader in connected and autonomous technology

13 September 2017

UK launches new project to become leader in connected and autonomous technology

13 September 2017

The UK Government has launched a new initiative for the development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) in the UK as the country increases its push to be a leader in the technology in the wake of Brexit.

The project, called Meridian, is jointly funded by the government’s £100 million (€111 million) CAV investment programme and by industry, and will create a cluster of excellence along the country’s M40 motorway corridor between the cities of Coventry and London, to accelerate the development of this technology, grow intellectual capital and attract overseas investment in the UK.

UK Climate Change and Industry Minister Claire Perry, comments: ‘At the heart of our Industrial Strategy is a commitment to delivering world class science, research and innovation. The Meridian co-ordination hub embodies this ambition, creating a globally recognisable brand that will bring the automotive sector, academia and government together behind a common set of strategic goals.’

A report published by the government predicts that by 2035 the global market for CAV technologies will be worth £907 billion (€1 trillion). Perry continues: ‘Through government investment and collaboration with industry in this area we will ensure that the UK becomes one of the global ‘go to’ destinations for the development of this technology.’

The launch of the Meridian brand follows a call for evidence by the Centre of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) in May 2016 into how the UK can integrate and strengthen its CAV testing facilities and to consider the case for a test bed to provide a focus for the industry. The idea was first considered in April 2017. The chosen location along the M40 motorway will connect CAV development bases in Coventry, where autonomous vehicles are being tested, and Stratford, giving it the opportunity to develop connected systems down the spine of the UK.

Ford director of global vehicle evaluation and verification and chair of the Auto Council Technology Group, Graham Hoare, comments: ‘These technologies are coming and will profoundly change our understanding of mobility. The UK has long-standing capabilities across many of the sectors supporting new vehicle technologies and an approach that is more open and collaborative than other markets.

‘We recognise that these exciting new technologies are broader than the automotive sector and we welcome the different ideas and perspectives that this brings. We look forward to working with Meridian to develop, articulate, and amplify our national offer.’

By establishing a leadership position for the UK in CAV technologies, the government believes the UK market could reach £52 billion (€58 billion) by 2035. In addition, the UK will have over 27,000 jobs connected to the sector by this time, with 70% of these estimated to be highly-skilled professional and technical roles in software-related industries.