Government uses Autumn Budget to unveil plans to make the UK a world leader in self-driving adoption

Self-driving cars without a human behind the wheel will be allowed to run freely on UK roads from 2021, the chancellor has announced in the Autumn Budget.

The plans by Philip Hammond are one of a host of measures intended to boost the automotive and technology industries.

A number of UK companies have recently ramped up testing of autonomous cars. Only last week, a partnership of Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Tata Motors confirmed it had taken its self-driving trial to public roads for the first time.

Greenwich in south London and Olympic Park in Stratford are also two key hubs for trials of autonomous cars.

However, these current trials must have a human in the driving seat in case something goes wrong. The new rules, which will mean a change to the Road Traffic Act, will allow testing without a driver at the wheel.

The plans will help the UK catch up with countries such as America and Singapore, both of which have been leading the way with self-driving research.

In the US, Uber is running a self-driving taxi service in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but drivers have needed to take control to avoid an incident on a number of occasions.

More notably, Google’s self-driving firm Waymo announced earlier this month that it will now offer a fully autonomous taxi service in a suburb of Pheonix, Arizona without a driver behind the wheel.

By removing the current legal constraints, many of which still apply in mainland Europe and large parts of the US, Hammond will allow the UK to become a world leader in self-driving cars.

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The news follows transport secretary Chris Grayling’s announcement that car insurance policies will be overhauled to accommodate autonomous cars, one of the major issues surrounding their introduction.

Talking about the Autumn Budget announcement, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “We support government’s measures to make the UK one of the best places in the world to develop, test and sell connected and autonomous vehicles. These vehicles will transform our roads and society, dramatically reducing accidents and saving thousands of lives every year, while adding billions of pounds to the economy.

“We look forward to continuing industry’s collaboration with government to ensure the UK can be among the first to grasp the benefits of this exciting new technology.”

Nissan GB managing director Alex Smith welcomed the changes to driverless legislation. He said: “Today’s statement is a clear sign that the UK is fully committed to embracing the potential of autonomous cars. As a technology still in its formative years, cross-sector support is invaluable. Nissan welcomes this announcement as we accelerate the development and deployment of autonomous cars, which are destined to play a significant role in the future of the automotive industry.”

Other initiatives announced in the Autumn Budget include a £400m pot for electric car charging points and £100m for plug-in car grants.

The war on diesel drivers has also continued, with Hammond increasing the tax for diesel vehicles that don't conform to the very latest real-world driving emissions test.

Read more:

Diesel drivers to be penalised in Budget

New insurance plans for autonomous cars

Waymo's new driverless taxi service

Join the debate


19 November 2017

Promoting driverless cars?


Oooh the irony......

19 November 2017

What is this mania for autonomous cars and where did it come from?  Is this another case of having technology thrust upon us just because it's there?  Who wants an autonomous car and will they ever be safe?

23 November 2017
streaky wrote:

What is this mania for autonomous cars and where did it come from?  Is this another case of having technology thrust upon us just because it's there?  Who wants an autonomous car and will they ever be safe?

Who wants autonomous cars?

The lefties in the Health and Safety industry, who dominate in scientific research, think tanks and the civil service departments.  Electric cars and autonomous cars are an integral part of the lefties plans for controlling the freedom of movement of the people, to enable the sort of oppressive, one-party state they have been seeking to bring about for many years.

Will autonomous cars ever be safe?

No.  They represent an end to the personal freedoms that cars have brought to the people for over a century, and a beginning of the subjugation of the people.  Control freedom of movement and it becomes easier to control freedom of thought, thence freedom of political expression.

19 November 2017

To me a hateful idea.  To Autocar - I really can't determine. 


This sort of article seems to be positive towards it. 


But I really cannot see how enthusiasm is compatible with an interest in cars rather than a simple desire to get where you are going.  It's like a pianist getting excited about self-playing pianos.  

19 November 2017

in one article, we have the latest thing we're being slowly forced/pushed in to, and the aftermath of the last thing they pushed/encouraged us in to. considering what current cars get recalled for, how is autonomy going to stand up to mass production? faulty fuel injectors, faulty abs sensors, defective controle modules, all of which have been in production for over 20 years. are cars in the (very near) future really going to be so bad to drive that nobody will want to do it?


20 November 2017

When I look around at the standard of driving here, I live in Thailand, autonomous vehicles can't come quickly enough. With more than 100 people dying every day on the roads here (the official figures are lower, but are calculated based on deaths at the scene - 50% of those who are transported to hospital in an ambulance die, but aren't included in the figures). The list of bad drivivng practices are just too long to list, needless to say, driving here can be exhausting, simply because of the level of concentration needed. I appreciate that the standards in the UK are much higher, but with numerous in-car distractions, as well as fatigue, for most people, I would imagine that the ability to choose to have your car drive you home a the end of a tiring day, or from the pub after a few drinks in the evening, would be a welcome addition. 

20 November 2017

I love the idea of cars that drive themselves. People seem to forget the daily news stories about drunk drivers killing families on teh pavement or lorries craching into minibuses on the motorway because the driver was on his or her phone. Nearly 20 million people are killed on the roads wordwide every ten years. Driverless cars should solve this pretty enormous problem and bring many other benefits both social and economic. I see a future where some roads (liek motorways) will be autonomous only, others will be optional, though with cars retaining control when humans ovrstep the mark. Companies and countires that don't sign up for this now will be like Kodak in a world of digital cameras – lost.

22 November 2017

If you want a laugh today read about the Autonomous shuttle bus that crashed on it's very first day after just 2 hours in Las Vagas.

Safety first, you couldn't make it up

22 November 2017

With the derranged enthusiasm for diesel (by both the govenment and Autocar) quickly replaced with an obsession with automomy, can we assume that the problem of culpabiliy in an accident has been addressed?  


I have to confess that autonomy is the very last thing I would want in my car.  I would certainly pay for a delete option. 

22 November 2017

From 2030 in London.


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