A new £40m (US$50m) competition to kick-start commercial self-driving services, such as delivery vehicles and passenger shuttles, has been launched in the UK. The ‘Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility’ competition will provide grants to help roll out commercial use self-driving vehicles across the UK from 2025.

The competition is intended to help bring together companies and investors so that sustainable business models can be rolled out nationally and exported globally. The types of self-driving vehicles that could be deployed include delivery vans, passenger buses, shuttles and pods, as well as vehicles that move people and luggage at airports and containers at shipping ports.

UK Minister for investment Lord Grimstone said, “Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionize people’s lives, whether it’s by helping to better connect people who rely on public transport with jobs, local shops and vital services, or by making it easier for those who have mobility issues to order and access services conveniently.

“This funding will help unlock the incredible potential of this new and growing industry, building on the continued development of self-driving technology, attracting investment and helping make our transport cleaner, safer and more efficient.”

A £1.5m (US$1.9m) portion of the funding will be used to study and explore using self-driving vehicles as a means of public transport that could provide an alternative to mass transit systems. This includes, for example, using self-driving vehicles on routes separated from other traffic that could be cheaper and more flexible than new railway lines.