News Release

£1.7 million project will pave the way for smarter cities and driverless cars

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Nottingham

  • The "i-Motors" project seeks to standardise the way in which connected and autonomous vehicles talk to one another and to other machines, and how data is stored and processed
  • The work will pave the way towards ending gridlock and reducing fatalities on our roads, leading to smarter cities, lower emissions and cleaner air
  • Led by digital technology company Control F1 and the University of Nottingham's Geospatial Institute and Human Factors Research Group, the "i-Motors" project also brings together traffic management specialists InfoHub Ltd, remote sensing experts Head Communications and telecoms gurus Huduma
  • The project has been awarded £1.325M by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) via Innovate UK, with the i-Motors partners contributing an additional £375K

Huddersfield and Nottingham, 28th January 2016 - Picture a future without gridlock. A future in which our city streets, roads and highways are safer, cleaner and greener. In which vehicles can self-diagnose a fault and order a new component, or automatically detect a hazard such as ice on the road before it's too late and warn other vehicles around them too. A future in which cars can drive themselves...

That future isn't far away: it is predicted that the UK will see huge growth in the production of autonomous (driverless) cars by 2030. Meanwhile the production of connected cars - cars with inbuilt "telematics" devices, capable of communicating to other vehicles and machines - is forecast to rise from around 0.8 million in 2015 to 2 million in 2025, accounting for 95% of all cars produced in the UK.

Yet whilst the number of cars with the technology to connect is already rising, little progress has been made towards putting this technology to use.

The new i-Motors project - which today announces a £1.325M award from the UK's innovation agency Innovate UK - plans to address this issue. The project sets out to establish a set of universal standards on how vehicles communicate with each other, and with other machines. Making use of connected cars' ability to support apps, i-Motors - led by digital technology company Control F1 and academics from Nottingham University's Geospatial Institute and Human Factors Research Group - will build a mobile platform that allows vehicles of different manufacturers and origins to transfer and store data.

The i-Motors team will use patented technology, allowing data to be collected and analysed at greater speeds than ever before. Capitalising on the experience of traffic management experts InfoHub Ltd, these data can then be combined with other data sources such as weather reports, event data and traffic feeds, easing congestion and increasing safety through real-time updates and route planning. In addition, the platform will allow vehicles to report errors, which can be automatically crosschecked against similar reports to diagnose the problem and reduce the chance of a breakdown. The project will adopt a human-centred approach, aiming to understand the complex issues involved in the provision of new information and services for the "drivers" of future vehicles.

Tapping into Head Communications' expertise, i-Motors will also address the issue of limited connectivity by developing sensors capable of transmitting data to the cloud in rea-ltime. Through installing these sensors - known as Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) - vehicles can remain connected with sub-metre precision, even when out of internet and GPS range. The project will make use of Huduma's experience working on telecoms solutions on a global scale to make i-Motors sustainable and commercially successful in the long term.

i-Motors already has the backing of Nottingham, Coventry and Sheffield City Councils, where the new technology will first be piloted, and a letter of support from the Transport Systems and Satellite Applications Catapult, and fleet management experts Isotrak. The project will make use of live vehicle data provided by Ford, which has an ongoing relationship with the University of Nottingham.

Dr Xiaolin Meng, Associate Professor and UK Director of Sino-UK Geospatial Engineering Centre at the University of Nottingham, says:

"We look forward to using our geospatial expertise and research to design a new data-sharing platform for autonomous vehicles. An intelligent mobility project such as i-Motors will allow us to work directly with industry to help make road use safer and more efficient, and we would like to thank Innovate UK for its generous financial support."

Dr Gary Burnett, Associate Professor in Human Factors, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, says:

"With 90 per cent of vehicle crashes largely down to human error, the next step change in driving safety can only really happen if you relieve the driver from certain tasks. This radical change in the driver-car relationship requires considerable human factors research to ensure users of future vehicles trust and accept the new information and services on offer. We will use our 'state of the art' immersive driving simulator to investigate how to design connected and autonomous vehicles to ensure the potential of the technology can be realised."

Control F1 MD Andy Dumbell says:

"We are delighted to have been awarded the funding by Innovate UK to lead on this ground-breaking project. Connected and driverless cars offer us the opportunity to make huge strides in terms of reducing congestion, bringing down emissions, and even saving lives. Yet as is always the case when dealing with big data, it's only effective if you know how to use it. We believe that through i-Motors we can set the standard for connected and autonomous vehicles and redefine the future of our streets, highways and cities."


Notes to Editors

For an interview with Andy or Xiaolin, please contact:
Florence Wilkinson, Control F1
07751 622646 |

More information is available from Prof Xiaolin Meng in the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 3466029,; or Dr Gary Burnett, Human Factors Research Group,, +44 (0)115 9514030 or Emma Lowry, Media Relations Manager in the Communications Office at The University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 8467156,

About i-Motors

i-Motors is a Research and Development project that seeks to standardise the way in which connected vehicles and autonomous cars communicate with one another and with other machines. This will be achieved through a new platform, using patented technology that will allow vehicles of different manufacturers and origins to transfer and store data faster than ever before. This can then be combined with other data sources such as weather reports, event timetables and traffic feeds to facilitate better traffic management and route planning in realtime. i-Motors will also make use of cutting edge "Beyond Line of Sight" devices, allowing vehicles to remain connected even in areas where internet and GPS is unavailable.

i-Motors is led by digital technology company Control F1 and the University of Nottingham's Geospatial Institute and Human Factors Research Group. The venture is supported by traffic management specialists InfoHub Ltd., remote sensing experts Head Communications and telecoms gurus Huduma.

About Control F1

Control F1 is an award-winning digital technology company based in Huddersfield and London. With specialisms in IoT and telematics, web and mobile application development, Control F1 works with clients from startups to blue chips to develop and support business-critical software solutions.

With a focus on Research and Development, the company also conceives, builds and launches its own award-winning digital products.

About the University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is 'the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a "distinct" approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.' (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of 'Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers' at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015. It is ranked in the world's top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world's greenest campus forthree years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

The Geospatial Institute

Nottingham Geospatial Institute (NGI) is a leading cross-disciplinary research and postgraduate teaching institute at The University of Nottingham, on campuses in the UK and China. NGI's specialisms include satellite navigation and positioning systems, photogrammetry, remote sensing, sensor integration, geoinformatics and data modelling, geospatial intelligence, location based services, semantics, reasoning and cognition.

The Human Factors Research Group

The Human Factors Research Group works on projects funded by sponsors from Research Councils, industry, European Commission and charities. In many of its projects, the group collaborates with colleagues from other disciplines, including manufacturing and electrical engineering, computer science, geospatial science, medicine and education, in its own and partner institutions.

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