The British government plans to help automakers bring their self-driving cars on UK roads as soon as possible, by allowing them to conduct autonomous tests on motorways.
Driverless vehicles will be allowed for testing on British motorways as soon as next year, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne recently announced. Trials will start first on secondary roads later this year as a measure to make sure they are safe enough, with the ultimate goal of making the technology available to customers by 2020. For that to happen, the government also plans to lift regulatory barriers so that self-driving cars can be deployed on the country’s public roads. “Driverless cars could represent the most fundamental change to transport since the invention of the internal combustion engine,” Osborne said. “Naturally, we need to ensure safety, and that’s what the trials we are introducing will test.” By implementing this strategy, the UK also targets to play a major role in the autonomous trend in the near future, a global market forecast to be worth 900 billion pounds (1.3 trillion dollars) by 2025. “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,” he stated.
Jaguar Land Rover has already revealed in February plans to begin testing self-driving technology on 41 miles of public roads, as part of a UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment (UK CITE) project that’s worth 5.5 million pounds. The funding for this project, the first of its kind in the UK, is part of the government’s 100-million-pound Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) fund. In the self-driving race, Nissan also said it would make its first mass-market driverless car in the northeast, at its Sunderland plant.