Eight new driverless car projects have been awarded a total of £20m in funding to research and develop roadside infrastructure and communication systems between vehicles, business secretary Sajid Javid will announce today.
All the schemes have received financial backing from industry in addition to government funding, and are also backed by leading automotive businesses, engineering firms, IT specialists, universities and local authorities.
The projects are the first to be funded from the UK government's £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund. These include new simulation trials for autonomous pods and developing driverless shuttles for visually-impaired passengers.
The business secretary will visit one of the projects today - the UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment (UKCITE). He will also see demonstrations and simulations of projects, FLOURISH and Move-UK.
Ahead of the visit Javid said: "Our cars of the future will be equipped with the technologies that will make getting from A to B safer, faster, and cleaner.
"They will alert drivers of accidents ahead and be able to receive information from their surroundings about hazards, increasing the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians."
According to the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, trials for driverless cars on the streets are currently being tested in Bristol, Coventry, Milton Keynes, and Greenwich.
They are also being used at Heathrow to carry shuttle passengers, although these are currently on designated tracks, the department added.
Mike Hawes, chief executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said the development would generate jobs and boost the UK economy.
"Britain is uniquely placed to become a global leader in connected and autonomous vehicle development, technology that has the potential to generate around £51 billion for the UK economy, save 2,500 lives and generate 320,000 jobs," he said.
"Today's first allocation of the government's funding pledge, which will be matched by industry, is an important first step on the road to realising that opportunity."
Meanwhile, a group of UK insurance companies, the Association of British Insurers and Thatcham Research have joined forces to consider key issues with driverless cars, particularly concerning insurance and liability. Esure and RSA have also recently joined the group, which is now made up of 13 insurers.
The eight collaborative R&D projects to receive funding are:
3. Tools for autonomous logistics operations and management
6. INnovative Testing of Autonomous Control Techniques (INTACT)
7. Pathway to Autonomous Commercial Vehicles
8. i-MOTORS - Intelligent Mobility for Future Cities Transport Systems