In what’s seen as a major new departure for the UK Government, Addison Lee has just been awarded not one but two projects in the fourth ‘competition’ for funding in the field of autonomous vehicle technology and deployment. In my 12-year experience of the automotive industry, the UK Government has been keen not to put all its eggs in one basket but to spread its bets by awarding several small amounts to different organisations and letting the market decide which solutions should be carried forward. However, in this competition, just three of the eight shortlisted projects were chosen and Addison Lee is heavily involved in two of them, which account for 82% of the funding pot and leave the third project with a mere 18%. This level of commitment is unheard of and it indicates the Government is now keen to back winners, to take a determined lead in pushing forward UK expertise in this exciting area of transport development. In earlier competitions, the focus has been on research, technical solutions and business models; but in this round of funding, the focus was on services, in recognition of the need to get the public on side at an early stage. This is a wise move as it seeks to avoid the common mistake of considering the customer only as an afterthought. In 2011, the launch of the Plug-in Car Grant initially floundered because it was not preceded by a public information programme, and had to be followed up by the customer-facing Go Ultra-Low campaign. Fortunately it would appear that lessons have been learnt and it’s now acknowledged that a customer/market focus is essential to ensure the UK stays at the forefront of AV development and deployment. Creating a strong market in this way not only supports UK businesses but also attracts foreign investment from organisations who wish to benefit from the advanced cluster which the UK can offer. It’s a very proud moment for EQ+iQ; in the wake of our successful launch of the MERGE Greenwich project, we were asked to help Addison Lee to prepare the two bids, in the hope that one or the other might be selected. We were overwhelmed with the support shown for Addison Lee when both projects were chosen for funding. The first – Addison Lee-led and supported by Oxbotica, DG Cities, Immense Solutions and Nominet – aims to develop accessible ride-sharing services which plug mobility gaps. The second is led by JLR and supported by Addison Lee, Transport Systems Catapult, TRL and the University of Nottingham; its aim is to develop a premium ride-sharing service which will encourage private car owners to switch to this mode of transport, thus tackling the serious issue of traffic congestion in cities. It’s certainly an exciting time for both Addison Lee and EQ+iQ because the next few years will be full of cutting-edge developments. This means it’s an exciting time for the UK too, as we work with the best British organisations to build a rival to the global technology giants. The vehicle shown is the car being used during four pilots in Greenwich for the AddisonLee/Oxbotica project.