UK announces £100m funding for driverless cars

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During his first Autumn Statement yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP, announced an additional £100 million investment to support the development of driverless cars in the UK.

The funds come as part of a wider investment of almost £400 million into future transport technology, which includes driverless cars, renewable fuels and energy efficient transport.

The funding will provide investment for testing infrastructure for driverless cars, said the Chancellor.

In his speech, he said that the Government wants to invest in the transport networks and vehicles of the future, which it believes are essential to growth and productivity.

The Government will invest £390 million “to build on our competitive advantage in low emission vehicles and the development of connected autonomous vehicles”, said Hammond.

The UK has regularly indicated its desire to become a leader in the development of driverless cars.

In a speech to the Conservative Party Conference last month, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP stressed the UK’s commitment to making the country a leading destination for driverless car technologies. 

The Government is also expected to publish a Modern Transport Bill early next year that aims to put the UK at the forefront of autonomous and driverless vehicle ownership and use.

Several driverless car trials are already underway in the UK. A few weeks ago, a trial in Milton Keynes saw the first self-driving vehicles tested in public in the UK. Other driverless car projects are taking place in Greenwich and Bristol.

Reflecting the growing policy focus on driverless and connected vehicles, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee is currently holding an inquiry into the future uses of driverless cars on the UK’s roads.

Last year, the Government announced the creation of a £20 million driverless cars research and development fund, while also creating a new joint policy unit, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, to co-ordinate government policy on driverless cars and connected technologies.