Conigital sets its sights on transport of the future: Driverless shuttles in a £2.2m Innovate UK funding package…

Conigital Group, part of an all British consortium led by Westfield Sports Cars, Heathrow, Birmingham City University, Fusion Processing and Creative Example, has secured a £2.2 million project to bring state-of-the-art driverless cars to the streets of Birmingham.

Project INSIGHT is one of 8 projects awarded a total of £20 million in funding from the government’s £100 million Intelligent Mobility Fund. They range from developing autonomous shuttles to carry visually-impaired passengers using advanced sensors and control systems, to new simulation trials for autonomous pods to increase uptake and improve real-world trials.

INSIGHT aims to cut congestion, lower emissions and improve transport access for people that are blind, visually impaired or have problems with mobility. The project will see two of the hi-tech shuttles arrive in the region from next year which will be tested over the course of a pilot period. INSIGHT will focus on improving the accessibility of transport for people who have difficulty travelling independently, as well as on the safety, reliability and integration of autonomous vehicles into an urban environment.

Julian Turner, CEO Westfield Sportscars, said:

The UK is in an excellent position to become a world leader by reducing congestion on our roads and helping the environment in the process by lowering emissions.This will lead to the generation of new opportunities and highly skilled jobs across the country keeping the UK at the forefront of this technology.”

The funding will help strengthen the UK as a global centre for the fast-growing intelligent mobility market, estimated to be worth £900 billion per year globally by 2025.

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills stated

“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”

The cars will be built by modifying existing Heathrow Ultra-pod vehicles to incorporate state-of-the-art 3D imaging and innovative sensors for navigation and safety of not only the passengers but also pedestrians, road users and other vehicles. The vehicles will feature the world’s first four-dimensional tactile display which will provide continuous sensory feedback for blind users over the course of their journeys. Advanced indoor and outdoor positioning systems will allow blind users to know their exact locations using a smartphone app and will link to a cloud-based system which will allow nearby vehicles to be virtually requested or ‘hailed’.

Monique Seth, CEO Conigital spoke about the opportunity for Conigital and the UK economy:

“We are immensely excited, to be at the dawn of a new era in transport and this is huge opportunity not only for Conigital but the UK economy too. According to a CAV report published by KPMG, the overall economic and social benefit of connected and autonomous vehicles could be in the region of £51 billion per year, save over 2,500 lives and generate 320,000 jobs in the UK by 2030.”