• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £10m in collaborative R&D projects to research further how driverless cars can be integrated into everyday life in the UK.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £10m

  • Opens: 30 Jul 2014, 08:29

  • Registration closes: 24 Sep 2014, 12:00

  • Closes: 01 Oct 2014, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Introducing driverless cars to UK roads

Competition results

See here for the competiiton results.


Department for Transport logoThe Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, working in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board, are to invest up to £10m in collaborative R&D projects to research further how driverless cars can be integrated into everyday life in the UK.   

This competition is part of the Government's commitment to build on our world-leading science and engineering base and advance the research and development, manufacture and use of driverless cars in the UK.   

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills


We aim to establish the UK as the global hub for the R&D and integration of driverless vehicles and associated technologies into society and to attract future investment by identifying up to three urban test locations for further research.   

Proposals must be collaborative and business-led. Consortia must include a local authority partner and may also include other businesses and research organisations.  Business partners must incur at least 70% of the total eligible project costs.   

We expect to fund mainly industrial research projects in which a business partner will generally attract up to 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs).   

We expect projects to range in size from total eligible costs of £5m to £10m, although we may consider projects outside this range.   

This competition opens for applicants on 30 July 2014. The deadline for registration is at noon on 24 September 2014 and the deadline for applications is at noon on 1 October 2014.   

A briefing event for potential applicants was held in London on 30 July 2014See a webinar recording of the briefing event.

There will be two networking and consortium-building events, one in London on the afternoon of the briefing event and one elsewhere in the UK. Full details on venues and dates will be posted at www.innovateuk.org/events   



The UK Government announced in its Autumn Statement 2013 that £10m would be awarded to towns or cities to develop testing grounds for driverless cars. Results of the trials would be used to inform policy development and direction, and to understand public perception and the impact such cars would have on society.   

Up to three towns or cities will host trials of driverless cars and other road vehicles in a real-world environment and carry out research that leads to greater levels of understanding and promotes integration and acceptance of such vehicles into daily operation. The trials will last between 18 and 36 months and start on 1 January 2015.   

Successful demonstration on the world stage will position the UK as the go-to place for the development, testing and roll-out of driverless vehicles and the wide benefits that they bring.   

The research will focus on barriers that have to be overcome in the development of driverless vehicles and in acceptance of them. The aim is to provide insight for legislators, insurers and law enforcers on the operation of driverless systems.   

The World Health Organisation predicts that 70% of people will live in urban environments by 2050. This will inevitably create urban transportation challenges requiring innovative solutions. Driverless cars could play a significant role in a future transport system, increasing  efficiency, safety and comfort and providing mobility solutions to a wider public, both young and old.   

Cars are already becoming increasingly automated and, ultimately, have the potential to operate, at least in part, autonomously.  The advent of autonomy – cars that drive themselves – would represent the most significant transformation in road travel since the introduction of the internal combustion engine.   

Driverless cars will improve people's lives and the way they travel, improve the world's towns and cities, create opportunities for the UK automotive sector and related industries, and have a large impact on the way towns are designed and engineered.   

This competition is part of wider government action that includes reviewing the regulatory framework that applies to driverless vehicles.   



This competition is focused on delivering robust town/city-based consortia that are capable of proving how driverless vehicles will be integrated in a real-world environment.   

Successful projects will demonstrate close collaboration with partners such as technology developers, supply chain companies and manufacturers.   

Each trial must enable both the  demonstration of passenger cars (M1 vehicles under the EU classification)  that can operate part of the time on roads without driver control and at least  one other form of ground-based urban  transportation (excluding light rail, heavy rail  and guided rail systems) that can operate  part of the time without driver control.   

We are seeking proposals that address a number of the following:   

  • a focus not on technology, but on  researching and building a deep  understanding of the impact on road  users and wider society   
  • the ability to resolve a wide range of  typical challenges, including  congestion and road complexity   
  • research on the interaction with other  road users  
  • interoperability – enabling different   solutions to be tested side by side  
  • the ability to scale up, both in physical  environment and number of users    
  • transferability to different city/town  infrastructure  
  • information for legislators and insurers  
  • acceleration of development, uptake  and investment in the UK   
  • acquisition of new skills and knowledge  in the UK for development of new  products, services and processes   
  • promotion of low and ultra-low  emission vehicles  
  • engagement and dissemination on a  world stage including through the media  
  • increased public awareness and  acceptance.   

All vehicles will be required to allow continuous in-use data collection, covering at a minimum:

  • number of individual journeys  
  • length of individual journeys  
  • date and time of journey  
  • journey details in autonomous mode:
    • time  
    • distance  
    • location.    

Looking for partners to work on your project?

Go to connect to find collaborators and networks.  

The data must be made available in an agreed format to the appointed third party at the end of each quarter during the project. The required data will be further defined in the Guidance for Applicants.   

It should be noted that the data and any subsequent analysis may be made publicly available and also used to inform future activity.   

Funding allocation and project details

We have allocated up to £10m to fund collaborative R&D projects that address the technical challenges outlined in the scope.   

Successful projects will raise the profile of driverless cars whilst providing comprehensive public feedback, which may inform future interventions in this area.   

It is expected that, as a guide, each proposal will consist of the following elements:  

  • interaction with other road users  
  • research and investigation of public acceptance  
  • trial of vehicles  
  • collection and analysis of data  
  • final report and dissemination.   

Successful applicants can attract grant funding towards their eligible project costs. The percentage of costs that we pay varies, depending on the type of research being carried out and the type of organisation involved.   

For this competition projects must be business-led and collaborative. Consortia must include a local authority partner and may also include other businesses and research organisations (for example, one of the Catapults or a university). Business partners must incur at least 70% of the total project costs, therefore research organisations and public sector organisations must incur no more than  30% of the total project costs.  

Each partner in a collaborative R&D project can receive funding towards their project costs – the funding is a percentage of the total eligible project costs and varies, depending on the type of organisation and the type of research. See general guidance on how projects are funded.

It is anticipated that most of the funding will be allocated to proposals in the categories of industrial research, with a business partner attracting 50% public funding for their costs (60% for SMEs), and/or experimental development, with a business partner attracting 25% public  funding for their costs (35% for SMEs). A robust case must be made to support the requested level of funding against each element of the project. The Guidance for Applicants defines these categories of research. Please visit http://www.innovateuk.org/-/funding-rules.   

We expect to fund no more than three projects, each lasting between 18 and 36 months and starting on 1 January 2015. We expect projects to range in size from £5m to £10m. We may consider larger projects but applicants should discuss this with the Technology Strategy Board before making their application.   

Projects are expected to work with an independent third party selected by the funders to provide consistent data for the monitoring, evaluation and dissemination of the results.   

Find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME.

Application process

This competition opens for applicants on 30 July 2014.   

Applicants must register by noon on 24 September 2014 and must submit their applications by noon on 01 October 2014.   

Applications are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts. We may apply a portfolio approach across the themes/areas.   

A briefing for potential applicants will be held in London on 30 July 2014 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend. We will also hold two networking and consortium- building events, one on the afternoon of the London briefing and one elsewhere in the UK. Details of dates and venues will be posted at www.innovateuk.org/events.   

Note: All deadlines are at noon.   

Key dates

  • Competition opens: 30 July 2014
  • Competition briefing: 30 July 2014
  • Registration deadline: 24 September 2014 noon
  • Deadline for applications: 1 October 2014 noon

More information

To apply you must first register with us through the competition page on the website. Registration opens when the competition opens and closes a week before the deadline for applications.   


As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive.

The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the decision to offer an award has been communicated to applicants by email.  Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.

E-mail pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk with any queries.