Britain to have driverless cars by 2021: Govt

With a focus on tech industries, the British government is also planning to spend millions supporting companies developing AI and 5G technology, which it believes will be necessary for the mass rollout of driverless cars.
With a focus on tech industries, the British government is also planning to spend millions supporting companies developing AI and 5G technology, which it believes will be necessary for the mass rollout of driverless cars. PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (AFP) - British finance minister Philip Hammond is to announce £75 million (S$134 million) funding for Artificial Intelligence and plans to put driverless cars on British roads by 2021, in his budget speech on Wednesday (Nov 22).

Hammond will announce regulation changes to allow Britain's driverless car industry, which the government estimates will be worth £28 billion by 2035, to get cars on the road within as little as three yeas, according to extracts of the budget released by his office on Sunday.

The minister, who is under a pressure to deliver an eye-catching budget following Brexit spats with cabinet colleagues, will also announce a £400 million fund for companies hoping to roll out electric-car charge points across the country.

People hoping to buy a battery-electric vehicle will also be able to access funding as Britain attempts to move towards zero-emission transport.

With a focus on tech industries, the government is also planning to spend £75 million supporting companies developing AI and £160 million in developing 5G technology, which it believes will be necessary for the mass rollout of driverless cars.

However, the Conservative minister is likely to be judged more on his social spending policies, particularly on his housing policy in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster that killed 71 people.