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News & Press: Environment News

Winners of £51m from Government Competition to Develop Self-Drive Infrastructure Unveiled

19 October 2017   (0 Comments)

News Release | Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, and The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP

The Government announces four winners of funding to upgrade testing infrastructure for connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology.

  • The four projects will test the speed, safety and potential opportunities for delivering CAV innovation, helping ensure the UK remains world-leading
  • Four consortia have been selected in this first round, led by HORIBA MIRA, Millbrook Proving Ground, TRL and the Warwick Manufacturing Group.

Four projects across five locations in the West Midlands have today (19 October) been awarded a total of £51 million in funding for creating the environments needed to fully test CAV technology.

  • HORIBA MIRA in Nuneaton will build a new site alongside its existing vehicle test tracks where automated vehicles can be tested at the limits of their speed and handling to ensure they are safe

2 projects will adapt real world locations for testing of automated vehicles in live traffic:

  • TRL will lead a project to set up live test environments in Greenwich and Stratford’s Olympic Park in London

Testing plans for HORIBA MIRA, Nuneaton.

Reflecting the UK’s ability to compete globally in this hotly contested sector, Jim Hackett, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company, opened Ford Europe’s Smart Mobility Innovation Office at the Olympic Park in Stratford yesterday. It will initially host 40 specialists brought together to develop smart mobility technologies for cities.

All the CAV projects announced today will be fully operational and advancing technology development in this sector within the next 18 to 24 months.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:

"Combining ambitious new technologies and innovative business models to address social and economic challenges lies at the heart of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy. Accelerating connected and autonomous vehicle technology development is central to achieving this ambition and will help to ensure the UK is one of the world’s go-to locations to develop this sector."

These projects, backed by government, form part of a globally unique cluster running from our automotive heartlands in the West Midlands, down through our innovation centres in Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes, through to London, Europe’s only megacity.

To achieve this, government and industry are working together to create the world’s most effective CAV testing ecosystem, integrating existing proving grounds and public road test sites across the UK’s existing automotive sector, strengthening existing capabilities and creating new ones.

This new ecosystem will be co-ordinated through MERIDIAN, a new government-backed and industry-led hub to develop CAV technology in the UK.

The MERIDIAN programme lays the foundation for a truly unique, world class, future transport technology testing ecosystem in which automotive and digital sectors can compete globally, and emerging businesses have unprecedented access to facilities.

Chair of the Auto Council Technology Group, Graham Hoare said:

"Currently no other country has taken this innovative leveraged national approach and this can be a major differentiator on the global stage. This will be a globally unique set of capabilities that is co-ordinated and developed to provide a solution to industry that will enhance delivery efficiency, collaboration and knowledge growth."

Launch Director of MERIDIAN, Jim Campbell said:

"As connected and autonomous vehicle technology becomes more complex, ensuring that the UK automotive industry has world-leading facilities to test and refine concepts is of imperative importance. Today’s announcement from government is a strong first step to ensure the UK achieves its ambition of becoming a global hub of CAV development in the coming years.

The MERIDIAN will offer world class CAV testing and development in the UK which allows us to accelerate research, development and adoption of these vehicles."

Director of Manufacturing and Materials at Innovate UK, Simon Edmonds, said:

"This first wave of testbed infrastructure investment is crucial at establishing a UK cluster of excellence to test and develop autonomous vehicle technology. This is another good example of how the UK is leading the way on this exciting agenda, and how UK companies can take advantage of the massive opportunities it presents."

This important investment, as part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, will further boost the UK’s opportunity to secure a share of the global connected and autonomous vehicles market that is expected to be worth up to £51 billion by 2020.

Automotive and technology companies will be able to accelerate their research programmes in real-life environments in UK cities, along with specially designed virtual and controlled test environments.

As well as securing high quality jobs for the future, it will unlock significant social benefits such as improving safety and provide better mobility access for the young, the elderly, and the disabled.

Yesterday the government introduced the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill as part of plans to boost the green transport revolution. The Bill will increase the access and availability of chargepoints for electric cars, while also giving the government powers to make it compulsory for chargepoints to be installed across the country and enabling drivers of automated cars to be insured on UK roads.

As an organisation based in the West Midland, the Society for the Environment is pleased to see investment coming into the area for the development of innovative technologies. 


1) The projects are the first to be funded from the government’s £100 million Connected and Autonomous Vehicles testing infrastructure programme announced in November 2016 and will be matched by industry.

2) The £51 million funding will be allocated across the UK: £31 million in the West Midlands, £7 million in Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire, and £13 million in London.

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