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£150 Million Allocated to Self-Driving Technologies Could Revolutionise Agriculture

The government has allocated a substantial investment of up to £150 million by the year 2030, specifically aimed at enhancing the nation's capabilities in the realm of self-driving technologies.

This allocation is a segment of a broader investment strategy, encompassing £4.5 billion, dedicated to fortifying the manufacturing sector within the UK.

A significant portion of this investment is directed towards the development of Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM), a move that is anticipated to have a profound impact on the agricultural and horticultural industries in the country.

This investment forms a critical part of the government's Advanced Manufacturing Plan, which seeks to invigorate the manufacturing sector, facilitate the opening of new markets, and streamline business processes.

The government's commitment to CAM, matched by industry funding, positions the UK's Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) at the forefront of global efforts in the research, development, and manufacturing of autonomous driving technologies.

These advancements are particularly relevant to the agricultural and horticultural sectors, where they are expected to introduce significant efficiencies and innovations.

Since its inception in 2015, the CCAV has been pivotal in establishing an initial commercial market for autonomous vehicles and services. This has been achieved through a collaborative investment approach with the industry, funding over 100 projects across the UK.

The economic implications of this initiative are substantial, with projections indicating potential annual benefits to the UK economy of £66 billion and the creation of an additional 342,000 jobs by the year 2040.

These figures underscore the potential transformative impact on the agricultural and horticultural sectors.

The recent funding is set to accelerate the development and application of CAM within the UK and has the potential to revolutionise practices within agriculture and horticulture. The introduction of autonomous technology in these sectors is expected to enhance operational safety, efficiency, and sustainability, leading to increased productivity.

In conjunction with this financial commitment, the forthcoming Automated Vehicles (AV) Bill, as announced in the King's Speech on 7 November, aims to establish a comprehensive and robust legal framework for self-driving vehicles. This framework prioritises safety and innovation and is essential for the widespread adoption of CAM technologies in various sectors, including agriculture and horticulture.

The programme's focus will be on market segments and capabilities where the UK holds or can develop a competitive advantage.

This strategic focus is particularly pertinent to the agricultural and horticultural sectors, where technological advancements can significantly enhance the UK's position in the global market.

Additionally, the CCAV is contemplating the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for UK Connected and Automated Mobility. This Centre would be instrumental in coordinating sector-wide efforts, enhancing skill sets, and promoting public engagement.

It would also provide crucial support to small and medium-sized enterprises in the agricultural and horticultural sectors, assisting them in accessing finance, engaging in international markets, and expanding exports.


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