British motorways could see driverless cars and other autonomous vehicles as soon as next year as the Government looks to accelerate the deployment of the technology as quickly as possible.
The news was revealed in a pre-budget statement sent to media which revealed that full-scale trials of autonomous vehicles is set to begin on British motorways during 2017.
The Government’s backing for the scheme is shown by Chancellor George Osborne describing driverless cars as perhaps “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,” Osborne added.
“If successful, we could see driverless cars available for sale and on Britain’s roads, boosting UK jobs and productivity.”
It seems that driverless car technology will take pride of place in this year’s Budget, set to be revealed on Wednesday.
This has long been suspected as support for driverless cars has grown hugely in recent months, with many of the world’s leading car makers giving their backing to the technology.
Last week, it was revealed that trials of autonomous lorry convoys could begin on Britain’s motorways later this year. The trial, which will see HGV vehicles moving in a convoy, following a human driver in the leading lorry, will help improve efficiency in heavy industry, the government believies.
A recent survey from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) predicted that driverless cars will add £51 billion a year to the UK economy due to fewer accidents, improved productivity and increased trade.
Last month, the government pledged a further £20 million towards the development of driverless car technology in the UK, which will fund eight new projects across the country.
This could include Google’s famous self-driving cars coming to London’s roads, as the search giant looks to expand the reach of its work to new countries. If approved, Google’s cars will join those of the GATEway driverless car project, which confirmed earlier this year that they will soon begin testing in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
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