Earlier this year StreetDrone’s Founder, Mark Preston, added his name to 19 others as a signatory to an open letter in the Telegraph urging the government to sustain its investment in the CAV or connected & autonomous vehicle industry. He joined the call from the leaders of other organisations including AXA, Telefonica UK, Thatcham Research, Euro NCAP, Addison Lee and others to ensure post-Brexit Britain remains tech-maker and not a tech-taker in a tech sector of profound importance to the country.
The UK has always had incredible successes innovating in “prototype” engineering, becoming a world leader in specialities such as Formula 1, but in its infancy, the domestic CAV sector needs catalyst funding to ensure that we maintain our pre-eminence and remain second in the G7 (to the USA) in this critical industry. The need for public funding is driven by the very nature of connected & autonomous vehicle technology which is based on substantial scientific advances and high tech engineering innovation and therefore requires lengthy R&D cycles. It may take a long time to reach commercial viability in the industry.
Not only does the bid for maintenance of funding make sound commercial sense, but the dividend for society as a whole cannot be overstated.
The mobility revolution has the potential to improve dramatically regional transport networks as well as urban centres and to provide a lifeline to our ageing society.
‘With investment today’ the letter to the Telegraph stated, ‘connected vehicles could make journeys more efficient and help achieve the net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions goal by the end of this year.’
With self-driving services available to consumers in the UK as soon as 2020, all road users will benefit from improvements in safety, productivity and access to transport. Advances in autonomous freight will also reduce emissions and congestion while improving safety.
Buried in the myriad pledges and spending plans in yesterday’s budget was a promise in section 2.22 to make a ‘step-change in R&D investment’ with the government to increase investment in science, innovation and technology to £22 billion by 2024-25.
We’ve read through the detail at StreetDrone and while specific commitment to the manufacturer of EVs and investment in the country’s electric charging infrastructure is explicitly laid out in the Chancellor’s statement, the willingness to maintain the government investment of £100m a year that has been forthcoming for the past four years is a little harder to discern.
The full budget text in section 2.22 makes specific reference to a number of areas of government spending, including:-
Leadership in key technologies
The government will invest over £900 million to ensure UK businesses are leading the way in high-potential technology and sectors, including nuclear fusion, space, electric vehicles, and life sciences
High-risk research agency
The UK will invest at least £800 million in a new blue skies research agency
Funding for world-leading research
The government will invest up to £400 million extra in 2020-21 to support world-leading research, infrastructure and equipment across the UK
In our humble opinion here at StreetDrone Towers, the UK’s CAV industry fits neatly into all three of these areas of spending. We’ll be waiting with bated breath to see if Rishi Sunak agrees…..
At StreetDrone we welcome more details to come on the development of innovation grants that will be available to companies in this burgeoning sector and welcome early discussion with like-minded UK companies that are interested in collaborating on the future of the UK transportation industry.
Please contact StreetDrone if you are interested! firstname.lastname@example.org