The UK government today announced that driverless cars will be able to get on the country’s roads as early as January 2015, less than half a year from now. It’s the latest push to attract research and development over to British shores—something the UK has been trying to lay a claim on since at least last year. The announcement by business secretary Vince Cable follows chancellor George Osborne’s promise of a £10 million ($17 million) prize to fund a testing ground for autonomous cars. Now, R&D projects can bid for that, with up to three cities set to get a share of the pot.
The UK is to encourage the development of driverless cars on its roads, it was announced on Wednesday, with a multimillion-pound research fund and a review into the relevant laws around road safety. The business secretary, Vince Cable, said a £10m fund will be made available for driverless car researchers in the UK, joint funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) and the Department for Transport (DfT). “The excellence of our scientists and engineers has established the UK as pioneers in the development of driverless vehicles through pilot projects,” said Cable. “Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society.” The DfT will also kick off a review process of the laws governing road use, including the Highway Code and the Road Safety Act, to permit the testing of driverless cars on public roads, Cable said while visiting the technology and engineering company Mira in Nuneaton. Two types of testing will be reviewed for public roads: fully autonomous cars without a driver, and those with a qualified driver who could take control at any time, similar to laws in the US where driverless cars have been tested on public roads since 2011 in some states. The review process will conclude in a report submitted to government by the end of 2014, a spokesperson for DfT told the Guardian.
Share Your Thoughts