Drones, electric planes and autonomous ships: Transport to unleash the UK’s potential as a world leader in future technologies

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ACCEL with London Eye. Photo credit Rolls-Royce

Consultation launched to consider groundbreaking technologies that will transform how we travel over the next decade.

Measures to safely maximise the opportunities and benefits from emerging aviation technology, including drones, and expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the UK are among a raft of proposals set out by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today (28 September 2021).

With radical changes in transport expected over the next decade, the government is making sure the right framework is in place to drive innovation, keep people safe and harness the benefits of new technologies right across the country.

Among the proposals being considered are future plans for a robust and expansive chargepoint network that will allow everyone to make the switch to electric, supporting the government’s commitment to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. The proposals would support even more chargepoints along motorways, streets and at popular destinations to make them more accessible, as well as helping to ensure they are inclusively designed so they are easy to use by all.

Seizing opportunities as an independent nation, the UK will also be able to implement tougher environmental standards for new vehicles and capture the benefits of transport innovation and technology development.

Building on the views expressed in the consultation, the government will bring forward final proposals on the Future of Transport, addressing the systemic changes in transport happening due to electrification, automation and new digital and data-driven ways of doing business.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

This is a hugely exciting time for transport in the UK. On our roads EVs are set to become the norm within the decade, on our seas autonomous and remotely operated vessels will increase efficiency and improve safety, and in our skies drones and novel aircraft will transform the way people and goods move around.

Supporting these innovations will not only ensure high standards for consumers but also create a research-friendly environment so we can continue being world leaders in transport. We will create a safer, greener transport system that attracts investment and supports skilled jobs across the country.

Last week, speaking about Rolls-Royce’s all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ taking to the skies for the first time Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

“The first flight of Rolls-Royce’s revolutionary Spirit of Innovation aircraft signals a huge step forward in the global transition to cleaner forms of flight. This achievement, and the records we hope will follow, shows the UK remains right at the forefront of aerospace innovation.

“By backing projects like this one, the Government is helping to drive forward the boundary pushing technologies that will leverage investment and unlock the cleaner, greener aircraft required to end our contribution to climate change.”

The consultation will also look at how a flexible legislative and regulatory framework could bring new aviation technology to market in a safe, secure and sustainable way. This will create new opportunities in aviation, such as supporting the routine use of drones for deliveries, which will improve accessibility to rural communities, surveying, data collection and search-and-rescue missions. Research suggests that the drone economy alone could be worth up to £42 billion to the UK by 2030.

In maritime, the government is looking to create a comprehensive regulatory framework to ensure that autonomous and remotely operated vessels can be operated safely in UK waters. This will ensure the country becomes the destination of choice for those wanting to develop, test and use autonomous vessels.

For more information on the Future of Transport consultation

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