Eight new projects have been awarded £20 million in funding to research and develop enhanced communication between vehicles and roadside infrastructure.
The projects are the first to be funded from the Government's £100 million Intelligent Mobility Fund and range from developing autonomous shuttles to carry visually-impaired passengers using advanced sensors and control systems, to new simulation trials for autonomous pods to increase uptake and improve real-world trials.
“It is reassuring to hear that this funding competition was oversubscribed and that such a diverse array of organisations and projects have ended up securing investment,” said BVRLA Chief Executive, Gerry Keaney.
“The Government needs to continue spending this £100m wisely and we hope to see more and more real-world testing of exciting new autonomous and connected vehicles.
“As the purchasers of nearly half of all new vehicles sold in the UK each year, the vehicle rental and leasing sector will play a massive role in driving the uptake of next-generation cars, vans and trucks. Our members will be developing the mobility services and business models of the future.”
KPMG's Global Automotive Executive Survey 2016, which was published at the same time, found that UK automotive executives expect autonomous vehicles to drive consumer purchasing decisions in the next 15 years.
The survey found that 58% of UK automotive executives expect self-driving vehicles to be a part of consumers purchasing criteria by 2030.
Roland Meister, head of transport at the UK’s innovation experts Innovate UK, said: "The UK is rapidly becoming one of the best places in the world for companies to develop their intelligent mobility business.
“Driven by our work with the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, this competition has connected together the UK's fantastic automotive industry, the research base, the insurance sector, public authorities with high growth businesses working in human behavioural science, telematics, information technology, communications, simulation, advanced sensor systems and machine learning.
“Through the funding and connections Innovate UK provides we are getting intelligent mobility ideas off the drawing board and into our lives, making us more productive, creating jobs, growth and exports.”
The KPMG report also found that technology will play a key role in how customer relationships are formed and managed: 54% of the respondents said that in the next 15 years, vehicle owners/drivers - not manufacturers or IT companies - will be guardians of their data generated from connected cars, as 38% cite trust as the main issue.
“Self-driving technologies such as automated emergency braking and already in high demand by consumers," said John Leech, UK head of automotive at KPMG.
"The development of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications represents the next big step in safety and convenience.
"However, less than 10% of consumers trust governments or technology companies with their data and only 21% trust vehicle manufacturers.
"Consumer trust remains a substantial barrier that governments and companies need to focus on."
Optimisation of the internal combustion engine remains important as previous years.
The survey revealed that 63% of UK automotive executives highlighted that downsizing and optimising internal combustion engine as important, and that hybrid electric vehicles would be the powertrain of choice (79%) by 2030.
“The drive to develop hybrid electric vehicles is fuelled not only by growing environmental pressures," said Leech.
"Our survey revealed that UK consumers already prefer hybrids over conventional internal combustion engines, as such vehicles blend the advantages of quietness, responsiveness and range.
"I now expect an acceleration of take-up of hybrids by consumers."