The UK Government is teaming up with the car industry to launch an initiative to co-ordinate the testing and development of connected and autonomous vehicles.
The Meridian scheme will involve the establishment of two bases at the Advanced Propulsion Centre sites in Coventry and Stratford, London. They will anchor a ‘cluster of driving excellence’ along the M40 motorway, designed to accelerate the development of connected and autonomous technology.
Meridian will be funded by the Government’s £100 million connected autonomous vehicle (CAV) investment programme and the Automotive Council industry body.
“At the heart of our industrial strategy is a commitment to delivering world-class science, research and innovation,” said climate change and industry minister Claire Perry. “The Meridian co-ordination hub embodies this ambition, creating a globally recognised brand that will bring the automotive sector, academia and Government together behind a common set of strategic goals.”
The announcement of Meridian coincides with the publication of a Global Market Value report, which predicts the worldwide market for CAV technologies could be worth £907 billion by 2035. It also predicts that the UK could have more than 27,000 jobs involved in the production of CAV technology by then.
US aims to expand autonomous testing
Meanwhile, the testing of autonomous cars in the US could be greatly expanded after the House of Representatives voted to pass the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution (SELF DRIVE) Act yesterday.
The act, which would need a similar bill to be passed by the Senate and then approval from the president before becoming law, would give the US Government, rather than individual states, responsibility for autonomous cars.
That would effectively allow autonomous testing in all 50 US states, with companies allowed to run up to 100,000 permitted self-driving vehicles, initially without meeting existing safety standards.