Chancellor George Osborne announces an extra £100 million of funding for autonomous cars, with the UK aiming to "stay ahead in the race to driverless technology"

Chancellor George Osborne has announced new funding for autonomous vehicle development as part of his last budget before the general election this summer.

Opening his statement, the Chancellor said he was happy to “report on a Britain that is growing, creating jobs and paying its way”.

Supporting figures that showed the UK economy grew by 2.6% last year, the fastest-growing in the world, the Chancellor said the British economy is “fundamentally stronger” than it was five years ago.

On the subject of autonomous vehicles, the Chancellor announced an extra £100 million of funding to ensure Britain “stays ahead in the race to driverless technology”. That funding will be used to both develop vehicles, as well as “the systems required to implement and adopt the technology, such as telecommunications.”

Safeguarding the continued growth of low-emission vehicles, the Chancellor also announced that company car tax rates for low-emission vehicles would rise slower than previously planned in 2019/20. Other company car tax rates will rise by 3%.

Fuel duty has again been scrapped, meaning the planned rise in September won't occur. The Chancellor said the move will save the average family £10 on the cost of filling up. "I want to make sure that the falling oil price is passed on at the pumps," he added. The move marks the longest freeze on fuel duty for 20 years.

The Chancellor also announced a raft of new measures to encourage Britain’s growing manufacturing industry, including doubling support for British companies exporting to China. “Britain's manufacturing output has grown more than four and a half times faster than it did in the entire decade before the crisis,” he said.

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In order to increased what is described as a “shortage of qualified HGV drivers,” the government will also review the current HGV driving test procedure, with a view to speeding up the process.

George Osborne also praised apprenticeship schemes, saying the number of apprentices in Britain has doubled during his time in office. “We are getting the whole of Britain back to work with a truly national recovery,” he said.

Facing Prime Minister’s Questions ahead of the budget, the Prime Minister David Cameron praised Jaguar Land Rover for its continued growth and tripled turnover over the past five years, saying “manufacturing is growing again in the West Midlands, and we should be proud of that”.

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18 March 2015
We already lead the world in "driverless" motoring. You see automatons behind the wheel every day, usually in blinged up SUVs.

18 March 2015
Sorry, Norma, but most cars in the U.S., especially along the east coast that use Interstate 95, are driverless than any where else. Every time I get to work or home safely I feel compelled to kiss the ground like a Pope.

18 March 2015
It's a start I suppose. Interesting to hear Elon Musk predicting that 'only Outlaws' will be driving cars themselves in the future. I agree.

18 March 2015
What on earth is the point of this? Does anyone need driverless cars? Has anyone asked for them? It's amazing that the state has this money to waste.

18 March 2015
Because humans are generally quite bad at driving, we get bored,get distracted,get tired, talk to passengers, listen to the radio, text,make phone calls, take risks, check out the girl on the side of the road,do our makeup in the mirror and other dangerous things that a driverless car never would. transport businesses would love this (with how much money they would save not employing people) Insurance company's would favor it(they would not have to cover the cost of someone writing off their brand new 30K BMW) and people who just don't care about driving (which to be honest is a lot more than most people would think)

18 March 2015
ben1grogan wrote:

transport businesses would love this (with how much money they would save not employing people)

Misleading headlines like the one Autocar has used leads to misleading theories like your's. They're called autonomous cars and not driverless cars for a reason. Business will still have to employ drivers to drive/pilot/oversee the vehicle so there's no cost savings in that department. Needless to say the vehicles will be more expensive to buy... All I can see is higher costs. My Focus can park itself - that was a cost option yet still needs someone to operate it.

19 March 2015
Chris576 wrote:

What on earth is the point of this? Does anyone need driverless cars? Has anyone asked for them? It's amazing that the state has this money to waste.

It almost suggests that,we don't actually have to own a Car,maybe in the distant future Cars will be a thing of the past?!.I can see Driverless Cars in built up areas being a good idea,but just about everywhere else?,no,also,if there's less Cars on the Road,where's the Chancellor going to get most of his Taxes from?

18 March 2015
Driving on the road is usually a chore. Horse riding didn't go away when it was replaced by the car as the normal form of transport, it became something people do for fun. The same will happen to cars.

18 March 2015
im not interested in driverless car as, and I certainly know where that £100 million could be better spent!

18 March 2015
...will never happen. How could a machine be programmed to 1) drive right past you even though the light is on 2) refuse to take you "South of the river at this time of night" 3) drive off without giving you your change and 4) bore you to death about "the Gunners/Blues/Spurs" and "blaaady Boris" etc?


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