Chancellor Osborne announces new plans to test driverless cars as early as 2017, with fully autonomous cars on sale by 2020.
The Government is looking to introduce a new set of proposals which will work towards allowing consumers to buy and drive fully autonomous cars as early as 2020.
The Government sees huge potential in driverless cars, which is why it is keen to begin testing the cars as early as possible, first starting on small local roads, and gradually extending to the motorway network.
Osborne said: “At a time of great uncertainty in the global economy, Britain must take bold decisions now to ensure it leads the world when it comes to new technologies and infrastructure. That’s what my Budget next week will seek to do.
“Driverless cars could represent the most fundamental change to transport since the invention of the internal combustion engine. Naturally we need to ensure safety, and that’s what the trials we are introducing will test.
“If successful, we could see driverless cars available for sale and on Britain’s roads, boosting UK jobs and productivity.”
Earlier in the year, the Government also announced it will allow 40 miles of public roads to serve as a test bed for self-driving cars, as part of a new trial. The Government will seek to work together with a consortium of car manufacturers and communications companies to promote the technology.
The three-year trial, conducted by a consortium of car manufacturers and communications companies like Vodafone Group, comes as part of a £20million investment that is split between eight different projects centred on driverless vehicle technology.
The £5.6million project, dubbed UK-CITE (UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment), will fit wireless sensors on stretches of motorways, A-roads, and urban streets around Coventry and Solihull. The sensors will communicate with up to 100 different autonomous and connected vehicles. The aim is to understand how effective the technologies are in reducing congestion and improving road safety.
Projects also in the pipeline include a £2.2million fund for the development of driverless shuttles in city centres to help those disabled and visually impaired. The project follows in the footsteps of the driverless pod initiatives already seen in city centres like Milton Keynes.
The eight different projects – the other six centred on accelerating autonomous and connected vehicles from an infrastructure and business point of view – is the first wave of R&D projects funded by the £100million Intelligent Mobility Fund announced last year.
The intelligent mobility market, centred on autonomous and connected vehicles, is estimated to be worth up to £900billion per year globally by 2025.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our cars of the future will be equipped with the technologies that will make getting from A to B safer, faster, and cleaner. They will alert drivers of accidents ahead and be able to receive information from their surroundings about hazards, increasing the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
“Britain is a world-leader in research and development in such innovative technologies which improve lives and create opportunity for all. That is why this government has protected the £6 billion science budget and is providing up to £20 million for these projects.”
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This is a landmark moment and will allow Britain to lead the way in the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles.”