Driverless cars steer towards UK motorways

Chancellor George Osborne will take the brakes off driverless cars when he opens up Britain’s motorways to testing in Wednesday’s Spring Budget.

Testing could begin as early as next year, with the government eager to support a technology that it believes could revolutionise transport and secure Britain’s place at the forefront of a new industry.

The Chancellor said, ‘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. That’s what my budget next week will seek to do.

‘Driverless cars could represent the most fundamental change to transport since the invention of the internal combustion engine. Naturally, we need to ensure safety, and that’s what the trials we are introducing will test.’

The driverless trials will be funded by the government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund, which has been set up to support innovations in transport technology.

Urban trials in Bristol, Coventry, Milton Keynes and Greenwich have already been approved, and now the government want to so develop a connected corridor between London and Dover.

The RAC supports the government’s initiative. Chief engineer David Bizley said, ‘The RAC recognises that driverless cars have the potential to offer great benefits in terms of improved safety on our roads and the prospect of greater mobility for the disabled and the elderly.

‘They also present an opportunity for the UK to consolidate its standing as a centre of excellence for automotive technology and vehicle manufacture.

‘Trials such as those proposed will be essential in proving the capability and reliability of autonomous vehicle technology.

‘Inevitably, however, motorists will be apprehensive about the idea of sharing road space with driverless vehicles; for this reason it will be essential to keep other road users well informed about these trials so they are not surprised or distracted by the presence of a of a driverless car.’