Sensors for autonomous vehicles in Devon and Somerset

Invest in UK sensors for autonomous vehicles

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Speed up the autonomous vehicle revolution across land, sea and air

Connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology is set to transform transport systems worldwide. The market for assistance systems is forecast to grow to 70.5 billion GBP by 2025.

The CAV revolution will expand the UK’s position in the global automotive market. New technologies, like sensors and sensor systems, will drive change and growth.

The UK’s South West region is a leading photonics and microelectronics cluster. There are over 170 companies that design and manufacture advanced solutions for sea, air and land here.

Image of a drone with camera and sensors flying over a field of rapeseed in flower.

The investment opportunity

  1. Uptake in the billions

    By 2025, global uptake of sensor technology is expected to be huge. It’s a critical technology for connected and autonomous vehicles, unmanned vessels, aircraft and spacecraft. Predictions are that this will be a 63 billion GBP opportunity.

  2. Unique capabilities

    The UK is an experienced supplier to the aerospace, marine and nuclear industries around the world. This has led to the UK’s unique ability to develop low cost, durable sensor technology. This growing market is currently worth 918 million GBP.

  3. More than vehicles

    The successful integration of sensors and sensor systems is crucial to the connected and autonomous vehicle supply chain. There are many potential applications in other products, from actuators to digital image processing.

Infographic showing that in the sensors for the autonomous vehicles sector in the South West of the UK, there are 174 businesses, 3,125 people employed and local output was £1.1 billion in 2018.

Devon and Somerset - the best place to invest

The region’s experience and capabilities mean you’ll be well placed to take advantage of this multibillion pound sector.

  • A skilled workforce
    • Over 3,000 of the most experienced photonics engineers in the world.
    • Access to photonics and microelectronics graduates from world class universities in Exeter and Plymouth.
    • Respected technical courses at South Devon College.
  • An innovative ecosytem
    • A cluster of over 170 companies involved in the development of CAV technologies.
    • Opportunities to collaborate with world class research institutions such as the Centre for Quantum Photonics, Optoelectronics Research Centre and the Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre.
  • A strategic location
    • 4 international airports within easy reach.
    • Access to 6 major seaports.
    • Rail links to London and the Midlands.
Image of UK map showing the infrastructure and facilities in the Devon and Somerset region that support the sensors for autonomous vehicles industry.

This opportunity is:

  • Cost competitive

    UK costs of labour, industrial property and utilities are highly competitive compared to Western Europe.

  • Supported by government

    The UK’s visa system is investor friendly and the Department for International trade offers advice on skills, finance and more.

  • Supported locally

    Business networks and access to funding and academic institutions can help you get established and growing.

The photonics and microelectronics tech cluster based at the heart of the UK’s South West region has unrivalled experience of integrating sensors and sensor systems into products for the defence, aerospace and communications sectors.

This know-how will be critical in making autonomous vehicles a reality.

Who’s already here

  • Effect Photonics logo
  • Silicon Sensing logo
  • Sonardyne International logo
  • Spirent Communications logo

Success snapshots

EFFECT Photonics Ltd

EFFECT Photonics Ltd

Dutch owned, EFFECT Photonics B.V. design and develop high speed optical components for communication systems enabling more widespread access to the internet.

The company’s advanced manufacturing facility is based at the University of Plymouth, Brixham Laboratory.

“We are engaged with a number of customers who see the value of EFFECT’s offering in a booming marketplace driven by the internet of things including connected autonomous vehicles and the need for the exchange of huge amounts of data.”

Paul Rosser, Vice President of Operations, EFFECT Photonics.

Silicon Sensing Systems Ltd

Silicon Sensing Systems Ltd

Silicon Sensing Systems, based in Plymouth, is a leader in Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) inertial sensors. The business is owned by Collins Aerospace and Sumitomo Precision Products.

Its gyroscopes, accelerometers and inertial measurement units are used in autonomous systems navigation and to stabilise optical systems. It also produces devices for others, using advanced piezoelectric ceramic material techniques in its MEMS foundry.

“Our gyroscopes have supported many millions of hours of road trials in the evolution of autonomous vehicle control. We supply gyros for systems that guide and stabilise autonomous platforms under the sea, on the ocean surface, in the air and in space.”

Steve Capers, General Manager, Silicon Sensing Systems Ltd.

Sonardyne International Ltd

Sonardyne International Ltd

Sonardyne has a research, test and training facility in Plymouth. It is a leading global provider of underwater acoustic, inertial, optical and sonar technology. They supply industries including offshore energy, defence, maritime security, ocean science and renewables.

Sonardyne develops innovative products for the autonomous underwater vehicles market. These include acoustic navigation and communications instruments, gyrocompass and motion sensor systems, and Doppler Velocity Logs (DVLs).

“As a location for marine research and development, Plymouth’s appeal lies in the diversity of water bodies, water depths, harbours and natural inlets. This maximises the time available to deploy and evaluate our equipment following arrival at a test site.”

Ioseba Tena, Global Business Manager, Marine Robotics and Defence

Spirent Communications plc

Spirent Communications plc

Spirent’s positioning division is a leading provider of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), inertial simulation solutions, and Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) systems. Over 100 people are employed at their headquarters in Paignton, South West UK.

Spirent is investing in products to test location aware systems in a simulated real world environment. These include combining lidar, radar, 5G, and HD cameras continue to create more complex systems.

“Spirent is a Torbay success story. The business has worked hard to achieve and maintain the international recognition it has today. We will continue to invest in our workforce here to further develop the excellent skills-base we have today.”

Martin Foulger, Divisional Managing Director, Spirent Communications