Britain wants to be a leader in self-driving cars

Britain is stepping up its plans to be a leader in self-driving cars.

The government is awarding 25 million pounds ($33 million) this week to as many as six projects that will research and test autonomous vehicles on highways and on trials of remote-control parking. It's the second competition in a program that Richard Harrington, the UK's automotive minister, predicts will lead to driverless cars in production within the next decade.

Britain's post-Brexit industrial strategy has a heavy focus on technology, with artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles being two areas at the heart of it. The nation is going up against the U.S., which is further advanced in both technologies. Some policy makers expect that leaving the European Union will allow it to offer subsidies and tax breaks that are currently restricted under common market rules.

"It's a very exciting thing, we want to provide the right environment for people to come to this country and invest," Harrington said in an interview in London.

In the U.S., technology giants such as Alphabet and Uber already have autonomous-car projects up and running across several states. General Motors, with a 2.25 billion investment from Softbank's Vision Fund, intends to be the first automaker to bring an autonomous taxi service to public roads in 2019.

China also is experimenting with the technology, with government supporting industry on a number of projects.

The UK forecasts the global driverless vehicle market will be worth 907 billion pounds ($1.2 trillion) by 2035 and it wants a piece of the market. Last year, it set aside 250 million pounds to be allocated before 2020 for companies to analyze self-driving vehicles in environments from city streets to highways and to fund prototype demonstration projects.

07. Juni 2018

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