UK Government gets in gear by investing £100m in autonomous vehicle technology

Last week the UK Government launched MERIDIAN, new government-backed and industry-led hub for the development of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technology. Funded jointly through industry players and the Government’s £100m CAV investment scheme, MERIDIAN should cultivate a “cluster of excellence” around driverless vehicle testing, with the M40 corridor between Coventry and London the focal point of testing the vehicles. The announcement of Meridian coincides with the publication of a Global Market Value report, which forecasts that the worldwide market for CAV technologies could be worth £907bn by 2035. 

Being a major contributor to the UK’s economic growth, it comes as no surprise that the UK Government is pouring considerable investments to help the automotive sector to continue to thrive. The Government expects that the early adoption of these technologies is likely to bring considerable economic benefits to the UK and enable the country to export these new transport solutions to the rest of the world. The platform represents a continuation of the Government’s commitment over the last few years to support the development of CAV technology through a number of initiatives.

As automakers and tech companies are racing to develop the technology, Governments are also clearing the way for the automotive industry by adapting legislation to the new technology. In May this year, Germany adopted the self-driving vehicles law which broadly legalises self-driving cars as long as a licensed driver is behind the wheel. Last week, the testing of autonomous cars has also been given a big push in the US with the passing of a bill that essentially gives the US Government, rather than individual states, responsibility for autonomous cars. The law, once passed by the Senate, would effectively allow autonomous testing in all US states, with companies allowed to run up to 100,000 permitted self-driving vehicles, initially without meeting existing safety standards. The idea behind the proposed bill is to speed things up for autonomous vehicle development.

Nonetheless, despite some advances in this area, it seems that the technology will outpace the regulation built around it. The reason why regulations fail to keep up is because of the ethical issues surrounding this technology and in particular the difficulty in deciding who is responsible for crashes. The importance of the safety issue has been confirmed in numerous surveys which underline the mixed public perception of the concept of self-driving.

Still, the technology has advanced so much that it is unlikely it will be held back by consumers’ anxiety about driverless vehicles. And more importantly, it should be expected that exposure to these types of vehicles will eventually increase comfort with the concept.

If this brief has been of interest you might also like to download Ti’s European Road Freight Transport 2016 report. It includes profiles of 20 European countries, as well as the region’s largest road freight operators. In addition, included in the report are Ti’s unique market sizing and forecasts, broken down by domestic and international road freight, for each European country.

Source: Transport Intelligence, 14th September 2017

Author: Violeta Keckarovska


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