Boris Johnson gives cash boost for research into flying taxis and delivery drones


UK innovators are to be given a multi-million pound boost to help develop greener forms of transport, potentially including flying taxis and electric passenger planes.

The government will provide £125m and industry £175m to fund a Future Flight Challenge to support new travel technologies.

The programme was announced as Boris Johnson headed for the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, where he will urge fellow world leaders to take tougher action on climate change and environmental protection.

Five new transport research networks, backed by the universities of Birmingham, Leeds, Durham and Cardiff and University College London, will each receive £5 million for work developing cleaner fuel and other innovations to reduce emissions and improve air quality.

Research teams will be given an opportunity to bid for funding under the Future Flight Challenge from 30 September.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps (Getty)
Transport secretary Grant Shapps (Getty)

The government believes the initiative could assist the development of flying urban taxis and freight-carrying drones. Research will initially focus on smaller aircraft with the aim eventually to scale solutions up to larger passenger planes.

Mr Johnson said: “From our shopping choices to planning our holidays, we rightly want to make decisions that protect the planet.

“This £300 million investment will help speed up the development of greener flights, and new ways of delivering the goods we order online.

“The UK is already recognised around the world as a centre for green tech. Now we will lengthen our lead, supporting our industry and our citizens to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Business secretary Andrea Leadsom that there were “endless” possibilities to find new ways of travelling and transporting goods and services.

“This investment will help make the most of the exceptional talent and expertise we have in these industries, and ensure the UK leads the way internationally in designing and developing technology, from electric taxis to drones delivering parcels,” she said.

“As we prepare to take advantage of the opportunities our future outside the European Union will bring, we will remain in pole position in this growing global industry.”

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “New technologies like electric and autonomous aircraft can help us tackle climate change, making journeys greener and working better for passengers.

“This funding will support the extraordinary talents of UK industry and academia, and demonstrate our country’s position as a world-leading transport innovator.”

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