The U.K. government has committed £125 million (US$153 million) for the development of cleaner flight solutions, including urban air taxis, electric passenger planes, and freight-carrying drones.
The investment will support U.K. Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge, which will open its first competition for compelling concept studies on Sept. 30. Interested parties can learn more about the challenge and its “Discover, Develop, and Demonstration” phases through a web briefing on Sept. 5. The challenge will initially focus on smaller aircraft and drones to ensure the suitability of new technologies before developing them for larger passenger aircraft.
The U.K. government anticipates that industry will co-invest up to £175 million, for a total investment of £300 million that will “help speed up the development of greener flights, and new ways of delivering the goods we order online,” according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“The U.K. is already recognized around the world as a center for green tech. Now we will lengthen our lead, supporting our industry and our citizens to reduce their carbon footprint,” he stated in a press release.
Additionally, five new transport research networks — to be led by the University of Birmingham, the University of Leeds, the University of Durham, Cardiff University, and University College London — will receive £5 million for their work developing cleaner forms of fuel and other tech innovations to reduce emissions and improve air quality. That additional funding has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
“New technologies like electric and autonomous aircraft can help us tackle climate change, making journeys greener and working better for passengers,” stated Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “This funding will support the extraordinary talents of U.K. industry and academia, and demonstrate our country’s position as a world-leading transport innovator.”
Last month, the U.K. government announced it was investing £80 million to help develop the next generation of electric vehicles and new hybrid aircraft as part of its Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, with a focus on supply chain development.