Leasing Professionals

Simon Staton examines how the UK government’s Intelligent Mobility Fund may influence auto mobility initiatives

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In the latest Budget, George Osborne announced that driverless cars will be tested on UK motorways from 2017, as the government takes steps to lift regulatory barriers.

According to the latest survey* from Venson Automotive Solutions, 28% of motorists are excited about the future of driverless cars, saying that ‘progress is good’.

Under the new plans, a £15 million ‘connected corridor’ will also be built between London and Dover, allowing vehicles to communicate with infrastructure and other vehicles. Osborne stated that the new trials will put Britain in a position to “lead the world in new technologies and infrastructure.

However, 30% of people Venson asked are concerned that the technology isn’t ready, with 34% casting doubt on the likelihood of testing happening as soon as 2017, simply because the public themselves aren’t ready for driverless cars.

‘Truck platooning’ – when fleets of commercial vehicles ‘digitally connect’ so they follow one other at a set, close distance, using automated driving support systems –  will also be tested.  Reported to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 10%**, as well as making them safer and more efficient, truck platooning is believed to be a sound investment by 43% of those surveyed.   Funding comes from the government’s Intelligent Mobility Fund, which has £100 million to invest in a range of transport innovations; however, 30% of those surveyed think the funds could be better spent elsewhere, such as the NHS.

Overall, our survey shows that people feel positive about the future of the UK’s transport infrastructure and driverless cars, with many seeing the safety and environmental advantages that this new technology brings.

Interestingly 18% welcomed how driverless cars could benefit mobility for the disabled.  Naturally, people do have some concerns, which are mainly focused on the technology being ready, the hacking of technology and how data collected from driverless cars will be used by businesses and the government.

The investment in new technology to improve transport and logistics infrastructures across the UK should be welcomed, as should the government’s commitment to ensuring Britain plays a leading role in driving change that will be recognised globally.

*Survey of 200 respondents by Venson Automotive Solutions March 2016

**ACEA (the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association)

Simon Staton is Director of Client Management at Venson Automotive Solutions.