Tech Law

Driverless cars to operate on UK roads 'by 2021', as government greenlights road tests

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By Jessica Goodfellow | Media Reporter

November 19, 2017 | 3 min read

The UK government plans to have fully driverless cars on roads within four years as part of its ambitions to "lead the next industrial revolution", chancellor Philip Hammond has revealed.

The chancellor is set to unveil plans in Wednesday's budget to allow developers to test driverless vehicles on UK roads as early as 2019.

The investment in the driverless car revolution forms part of the government's plans to boost the UK’s technology and science industries.

Driverless cars predicted to be operational on UK roads by 2021

Driverless cars predicted to be operational on UK roads by 2021

"Some would say that's a bold move, but we have to embrace these technologies if we want the UK to lead the next industrial revolution," Hammond told the BBC.

The government said the industry would be worth £28bn to the UK economy by 2035 and will support 27,000 jobs. Asked about the potential loss of jobs for drivers, he said the country could not "hide from change" and the government had to equip people with the skills "to take up new careers".

Many brands are working to lead the driverless card revolution, from traditional car manufacturers such as Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota, BMW, Volvo and Nissan, as well as tech giants Tesla, Google, Apple, Baidu, Uber and Lyft.

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Hammond's comments come just hours after former Top Gear host and now Grand Tour presenter Jeremy Clarkson warned of the dangers of driverless cars when the technology steering the cars is still making life-threatening errors.

Writing in the Sunday Times magazine, Clarkson said he was recently in a self-driving car which made two mistakes which could have killed him in just 50 miles. The incidents convinced him the technology was still "a very long way off", adding: "For now, we're miles away from it."

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