Bristol ‘missing out on driverless cars investment’

Bristol is missing out on investment in the future of driverless technology, the man behind a Bristol-based company building autonomous vehicles has said.

Stephen Hilton, the founder of Venturer, said most investment was going to the likes of the Midlands and Cambridge.

He was speaking after Venturer tested its own automated vehicle ‘The Wild Cat’ around the University of the West of England yesterday.

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Mr Hilton said the government was more interested in investing in existing centres of technology excellence in the UK, rather than in new centres.

“I think there is a lot of investment in the UK and globally into autonomous vehicle and infrastructure to support their development,” he said this morning.

“It is disappointing though that not a lot of it is coming to Bristol. Most of that investment is going into the Midlands and Cambridge.

“The reason is that they all have existing motor manufacturing industries. And therefore the government’s approach is to sort of rather than create a new center it’s about allowing those existing centers to evolve.

“I can see that from a UK perspective makes allot of interest but from a Bristol perspective it means not much of the investment is coming here.”

Mr Hilton spoke the day after his firm conducted an experiment on roads at the University of the West of England, which aimed to test interactions between driverless cars and conventional vehicles.

The tests showed autonomous vehicles would have to operate more carefully than the average driver in order to gain public trust.

Mr Hilton added: “I set up Venturer, I brought the consortium together at the council with Atkins and BAE and Williams so I was quite involved in its first year. Its good that they’re testing it.

“I would hope that Venturer and similar projects around robotics will become impactful. It would be great to see something on the MetroBus route that is driverless and automated in the not too distant future.

“That would be pretty cool. A driverless pod up to the airport would be great.”

You can listen to Stephen Hilton continue to talk about Venturer and how Bristol’s universities are combining their robotics departments to work on the project:

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