The Midlands will become the centre of the UK's connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) testing infrastructure, business minister Greg Clark has revealed.
Announcing the first phase of the government's £100m investment in research into autonomous vehicle technology, Clark told delegates at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' Connected conference this week that he expected the £100m of government funding to be matched by industry over the next four years.
The £200m total investment will support a range of projects, including £55m invested in the development of public test facilities in a complex, real-world urban environment, as well as a controlled test environment that mirrors what it is like driving in a city. There will also be a controlled high-speed test environment that replicates motorway driving.
This will be focused on an infrastructure cluster between London and Birmingham.
"By 2035 the global market for connected and autonomous vehicle technologies is predicted to be worth £63bn," said Clark.
"Our investment and collaboration with industry to build on our strengths and create a cluster of excellence that will ensure we are at the forefront of its development and perfectly positioned to lead and capitalise on this market," he added.
The government had made a commitment in the 2016 Autumn Statement to develop a 'world-class' connected and autonomous vehicle testing infrastructure. The test bed will use existing UK CAV testing centres in Coventry, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Oxford and London to create a national testing infrastructure cluster.
The government and its industry partners hope that by creating a cluster, it can develop its capabilities in this area, and understand more about the technology and infrastructure involved in autonomous vehicles.
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