Plans supported by £60m of new public spending
The government has unveiled its plan to get self-driving cars on UK roads by 2025, an ambition that will be supported by £60m of newly announced public funding.
Alongside this investment, the government intends to implement “a new legal and safety framework” for autonomous vehicles, the ultimate aim of which is to codify the necessary standards to ensure that they are “as safe as a competent human driver”.
A public consultation on the framework was launched last week and, “when parliamentary time allows”, the government also intends to pass supporting legislation that will, effectively, legalise self-driving vehicles for use on UK roads.
The government believes that cars certified to drive themselves on UK motorways could be available for purchase as soon as next year. Freight and public-transport vehicles to follow during 2024 and 2025.
Meanwhile, a new £34m tranche of funding is to be dedicated to safety research, with £20m available to support projects that could “help kick-start commercial self-driving services and enable businesses to grow and create jobs in the UK”. An additional £6m is set aside for “further market research and to support commercialisation of the technology”.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “The benefits of self-driving vehicles have the potential to be huge. Not only can they improve people’s access to education and other vital services, but the industry itself can create tens of thousands of job opportunities throughout the country. Most importantly, they’re expected to make our roads safer by reducing the dangers of driver error in road collisions. We want the UK to be at the forefront of developing and using this fantastic technology, and that is why we are investing millions in vital research into safety and setting the legislation to ensure we gain the full benefits that this technology promises.”