Multimillion-pound fund backs vaccine-carrying drones and automated cars

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Vaccine-carrying drones and self-driving cars are among more than 20 projects to have received government funding to encourage cutting-edge innovation across the UK.

These initiatives and others have been backed by the government’s Regulators’ Pioneer Fund, which supports projects led by regulators and local authorities designed to help the country’s regulatory environment keep pace with future technological advances.

For example, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will use a £55,000 grant to develop world-first standards for special containers that will allow drones to safely carry sensitive goods such as medical products, so that remote communities can access critical supplies without delay.

Currently, there is reportedly no regime anywhere in the world for testing and approving these containers to make sure that they do not leak, even in the event of a crash.

The aviation regulator has also received £198,000 to create a service for the public to report safety concerns about drones, while Oxfordshire County Council has won £169,000 to help developers understand their legal requirements when setting up new trials in the drone industry.

UK business minister Lord Callanan said: “Good regulation should spur entrepreneurship, not stand in its way, and this fund will keep the UK at the cutting-edge of innovation.

“The projects we are supporting could pave the way for exciting developments across a range of sectors, from drone technology to healthcare, all of which will bring benefits to British businesses and consumers alike.”

In total, 21 projects have received a share of £3.7m of funding. Winning projects include Oxfordshire County Council, in collaboration with the Met Office, Ordnance Survey, and others, which received £198,000 to develop a tool to help self-driving car developers know when they can conduct trials.

The funding was awarded following an assessment process conducted earlier this year

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