UK government announces plans to change road and traffic regulations allowing autonomous cars test vehicles on open British roads.
The UK Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, made the decision public during his budget speech for the coming year. Hammond stated that the technology was being introduced because the Government sees it as the future. “Some may choose to reject the future, we choose to embrace it,” he said.
To facilitate the program, the British government will spend close to £100,000,000 ($1,3 billion)to incentivise electric vehicles for its citizens, with the hope that by 2021, that driverless cars will be fully integrated onto UK roads. The move by the UK Chancellor has been reported as being less about the future of technology in the country, and more about him trying to save his job. Hammond, has been sever under pressure from both business, opposition politicians, and critics in his own party.
The UK is also set to leave the EU in 2019. The Conservative party of whom Hammond is a member, is split between those who ardently want to embrace social, economic and political uncertainty, and those who think remaining part of the world’s single largest economic trading market. Hammond was part of the latter group.
Hammond said in his budget speech that he wanted to “build a country fit for the future and make the UK a leader in the technological revolution”.
Look, Mom, no hands
Hammond also announced that the UK will try to be a world leader in the future development of driverless cars, claiming that new legislation will remove the restraints and rules that currently apply in many other EU nations, and crucially, much of the US.
Spend brass to make brass
As part of the new deal, the Government will spend £400m on a new charging-infrastructure fund, an extra £100m on the existing plug-in vehicle grant, and £40m extra for research into charging.
The move was boradly welcomed by leaders in the sector. “The Chancellor’s announcement to back autonomous driving by bringing it to UK roads by 2021, marks the beginning of the global driving revolution,” said Intel. “Our research estimates the economy created by autonomous driving will grow from $800bn (£602.6bn) to $7 trillion globally, as fully autonomous vehicles become mainstream.”
Time will tell.