The British government is increasing financial measures to promote the development of driverless vehicles in the country, including incentives for both individuals and companies as well as aids for the deployment of 5G and the usage of artificial intelligence. There will also be a modification in the legislation governing this type of vehicle on the roads.
The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer presented the latest budget on 22 November, including the funds that will go to the development of driverless cars in the country. The first autonomous vehicles should be on the roads by 2021 thanks to a massive investment from the British government in the relevant new technologies.
Priority for 5G and artificial intelligence
As outlined in French magazine Le Point, Chancellor Philip Hammond’s budget included 75 million pounds (around 100 million US dollars) to drive the development of technologies using artificial intelligence. Furthermore, no less than 160 million pounds are also set to be invested in the deployment of 5G mobile telephone networks across the country, since the speeds which this will provide are seen as crucial to the best possible implementation of driverless vehicle projects.
Another important element in aiding the future usage of these vehicles is current urban and traffic legislation. The government is hoping to introduce changes in both, to enable new driverless cars to run on British roads without legal hindrance.
Boosts for companies and individuals
The chancellor also intends to devote a significant sum to measures aimed at encouraging those in the sector to launch actual projects, and to choose this kind of vehicle. For the consumer, there will eventually be subsidies for those looking to buy electric vehicles, while 400 million pounds (535 million US dollars) is being allocated to companies for them to install electric battery recharging stations.
"The UK needs to be at the forefront of his new technological revolution," said Hammond to ITV, before switching to BBC1 where he announced that "the UK has a highly promising future ahead of it, and we must seize the opportunities that the post-Brexit world has to offer".
Vehicles to borrow, hire or share
One of the main questions is how smart cars will develop in terms of ownership. Like current vehicles, will they only have one owner, or will they be shared via on-line services for car-pooling, short-term hire or à la carte usage? Drivers are likely – initially at least – to favour traditional vehicles equipped with electric engines.
The UK capital London is currently preparing for a ban on vehicles fitted with engines burning fossil fuels, set to be imposed in 2019, with the mayor looking to expand the zone in question by 2021.
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