Exeter-based Lightfoot has been awarded a £1.8 million Government funded project to help cut harmful air pollution through “Connected Car” technology that rewards better drivers. The project will use Lightfoot’s trail-blazing in-car device to aid and reward smoother driving styles, cutting fuel bills and pollutants on the UK’s roads.
The project will also see Securious, a cyber security compliance company based in the Exeter Science Park, utilising their sector-leading experience to find new and better solutions for connected car security.
Awarded by Innovate UK, the grant is part of the Government’s commitment to invest in the Connected Car sector, which has been identified as one of the world’s fastest growing technology areas.
The funding allows a consortium led by Lightfoot, including The Institute of Advanced Motorists, Exeter-based cyber security specialists Securious, Revolve Technologies, and the University of Bath, to develop connected transportation solutions in the near term and systems to manage communications between autonomous and traditionally driven vehicles in the longer-term.
Lightfoot itself will receive almost one million pounds from the grant, cementing its position as one of the UK’s leading businesses in the global race to develop connected transportation solutions and places Exeter and the South West as a hub of national excellence.
Local drivers will be recruited to test Lightfoot’s new ‘Connected Car’ solutions, making Exeter a UK hub for the development of this exciting new technology.
The funding is one of 38 automotive research and development projects to receive a share of £109 million announced by the business secretary Greg Clark and transport minister John Hayes.
The project, which commences on 01 May 2017, will allow Lightfoot to further develop its award-winning connected car technology, enabling drivers to be rewarded for smoother, more efficient driving while benefiting the wider environment; Lightfoot is proven to reduce CO2 emissions by 10-20%, nitrous oxide (NOX) emissions by 20% and particulates by 15%. It has also been shown to reduce accidents on the road with up to a 75% reduction in total claims values.
Under the project Lightfoot will deliver its groundbreaking “Driver Ecosystem”, which rewards smoother, safer and more efficient drivers with discounts on breakdown cover, car servicing and maintenance, car insurance, car finance, car rental, and much more. There’ll even be discounts for Lightfoot drivers in technology outlets, cinemas, restaurants, and coffee chains.
It will also allow Lightfoot to introduce:
automatic detection and notifications of vehicle faults via email before visiting a mechanic
automated breakdown provider alerts and location finder
tracker features should a car be lost or stolen
business mileage recording and downloading options for expenses claims
automatic MOT, Road Tax and insurance due date notifications
automated “Lifesaver” alerts to the emergency services should a car be involved in an accident
Commenting on the funding Mark Roberts, Managing Director of Lightfoot, said: “The Government grant is a huge endorsement for our technology. We’ve found the key to instantly and consistently cutting pollution on the roads by combining rewards for better driving with connected car technology. Now drivers can adapt their driving based on real-time feedback from the engine and get great rewards for being smoother drivers. It’s the ‘Fitbit for cars’ that’s fun, social and addictive, delivering cleaner, greener and cheaper motoring for all.
“Our next goal is to take this technology global, getting as many of the billion plus vehicles on the planet to be driven as efficiently as possible. Through the government grant and our work to advance connected car technology, we believe that this ambition is possible.
“Using Lightfoot, motorists that prove themselves to be smoother drivers can expect savings of more than 30% on their insurance policies. Add in savings of hundreds of pounds on fuel and the potential to win amazing prizes, such as weekend breaks or go-karting sessions with Nigel Mansell, and you have a hugely compelling solution that directly addresses pollution on the roads; an issue that affects us all and which is regularly making front page news.”
Roberts added: “It’s great to see both Lightfoot and Securious, two Exeter-based companies, involved in this government award. This shows that the South West is fast becoming a centre of excellence for advance connected car technology.”
Director of Securious, Pete Woodward, said: “Connected car technology is extremely exciting but it is essential that customers know they are secure and their data is safe. Lightfoot is already committed to the highest levels of data privacy and security but Government support through this project will enable us to develop innovative approaches by adapting techniques and best practice from areas that have already been subject to extreme stress testing.”
Commenting on the grant, Transport Minister John Hayes said: “I am absolutely committed to improving air quality and reducing pollution in towns and cities, which is essential for people’s health and the environment. This Government is investing just over £109 million to support British businesses in developing innovative, important technologies which will greatly reduce our emissions footprint.”
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “As a Government we are determined through the Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and put the UK at the forefront of this revolution. Investment in this technology is an integral part of this Government’s efforts to ensure the UK auto sector remains competitive and world-leading. The projects being awarded funding today will help extend our excellence in these cutting-edge research fields, helping to safeguard jobs while ensuring the UK remains the go-to destination for automotive excellence.”
Innovate UK Chief Executive Ruth McKernan said: “These successful industry-led R&D projects will further spearhead UK development of low emission, and connected and autonomous vehicle technology, building on our world-leading research and innovation capability in this area and the significant strength of UK businesses large and small in this field.”