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An autonomous car cyber security group will receive UK government funding as part of a plan to make the country a hub for the development of self-driving cars.

Funding comes from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, which operates under the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

According to autocar.co.uk, the 5*Stars consortium, which incorporates Horiba MIRA, Ricardo, Thatcham Research, Roke and Axillium Research, will get grants to develop defenses against cyber attacks on autonomous cars as concern grows about the security of the ever more advanced technologies in the car industry.

The consortium put forward a case for funding, which culminates in introducing a system of star ratings for the security of autonomous cars against cyber attacks, similar to Euro NCAP’s ratings for the crash safety of cars.

Business and energy secretary Greg Clark announced the consortium’s winning bid, although it has not been disclosed how much funding the group will receive. The news follows the recent announcement that the department has set aside £100 million for investment in autonomous vehicle testing infrastructure.

Clark said: “By 2035 the global market for connected and autonomous vehicle technologies is predicted to be worth £63 billion. Our investment and collaboration with industry to build on our strengths and create a cluster of excellence will ensure we are at the forefront of its development and perfectly positioned to lead and capitalize on this market.”

Dr. Anna Bonne, Transport Lead at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said:

“The importance of identifying potential ‘vulnerabilities’ – flaws in a connected car’s communications and data systems that could be exploited by somebody seeking to ‘hack’ into that vehicle’s control mechanisms or other onboard technology – and protecting such vehicles against interference or attack, has stepped up in the past five years, as online menaces have become potentially more hazardous – and more penetrative.”