Driverless car projects get £20m government funding boost

The interior of a driverless car at the headquarters of motor industry research organisation MIRA, as some of Britain's largest motor insurance firms have formed an alliance to examine the potential impact of driverless cars in the UK/Picture by: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images.
The interior of a driverless car at the headquarters of motor industry research organisation MIRA, as some of Britain’s largest motor insurance firms have formed an alliance to examine the potential impact of driverless cars in the UK/Picture by: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

By Aine Fox, Press Association

Driverless car technology is to receive a £20 million funding boost in the hope it can help transform travel by making roads safer and reducing traffic jams.

The investment in eight new projects has been hailed as a “landmark moment” for research and development which will include equipping more than 40 miles of roads and motorways with talking car technologies.

Among the projects to benefit from the money, which has been awarded from the Government’s £100 million Intelligent Mobility Fund, are driverless shuttles for people with visual impairments.
It is hoped better technology can also improve road safety by sending updates to cars about nearby accidents or hazards.

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Mike Hawes said the development of new technology has the potential to save thousands of lives and generate 320,000 jobs as well as £51 billion for the UK economy.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “These projects will help profoundly change the way we travel within years, transforming our roads by making travel a simpler experience for drivers, reducing accidents and helping traffic flow more smoothly.

“They will also bring great benefits to our society and the wider economy by opening up new routes for global investment.

“This is a landmark moment and will allow Britain to lead the way in the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles.”

Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who is due to visit the autonomous vehicles test bed in Nuneaton, said: “Our cars of the future will be equipped with the technologies that will make getting from A to B safer, faster, and cleaner.

“They will alert drivers of accidents ahead and be able to receive information from their surroundings about hazards, increasing the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians.”

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