Skip to the content

BEIS backs projects for self-driving buses


Mark Say Managing Editor

Get UKAuthority News


Autonomous bus
Image source: Sikorka

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced £42 million in funding for a number of projects to develop self-driving transport technology.

It includes bus services in Edinburgh, Sunderland, Belfast, Birmingham and Milton Keynes and will be matched by funds from industry consortia with the aim of developing sustainable commercial services by 2025.

The awards have been made under the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Connected and Automated Mobility programme.

They include £5.2 million, to be matched by the same amount from industry, for the CAVForth II – Fusion Processing project, under which an automated bus service will run on a 14-mile route in Edinburgh. Stagecoach Group, Alexander Dennis Ltd, the University of the West of England and Edinburgh Napier University are partners in the project.

£3 million with a similar industry pledge has gone to Sunderland City Council for the Advanced Mobility Shuttle, which will run a zero-emission passenger mobility service between bus, rail and metro interchanges and the University of Sunderland and Sunderland Royal Hospital. It also includes Stagecoach North East, ANGOKA, Aurrigo, Newcastle University, Swansea University and BAI Communications.

The third bus service – receiving £5.5 million each from BIES and industry – is for Belfast Harbour under Project Harlander. This is aimed at developing a scalable, fully automated shuttle service on mixed use public roads.

Project partners include Horiba MIRA and REE Automative under a consortium collaboration agreement to be signed soon.

Supporting vehicles

Three projects have been awarded funds to support the operation of self-driving vehicles: the Greater Cambridge Partnership has been awarded £8.4 million; and a group including the West Midlands Combined Authority has £15.2 million for the establishment of a remote monitoring teleoperation centre to support their use using 5G connectivity; and £4 million has gone to a group to support the use of autonomous HGVs serving the Nissan factory in Sunderland.

Another project will receive £6.6 million to deliver an all-automated HGV for the UK market.

Smaller awards have gone to public transport projects in different parts of the country. £152,00 is to support the development of a case for automated shuttle vehicles to run on a segregated corridor in East Birmingham; £200,000 goes to a similar project in Milton Keynes; and £92,000 for work on an autonomous rapid transit corridor in Cambridge.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Self-driving vehicles including buses will positively transform people’s everyday lives – making it easier to get around, access vital services and improve regional connectivity.

“We’re supporting and investing in the safe roll out of this incredible technology to help maximise its full potential, while also creating skilled jobs and boosting growth in this important sector.”

BEIS said the Government is committed to introducing legislation to enable the safe and timely roll out of self-driving vehicles on UK roads.

Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.