Business Minister Greg Clark has announced a new pot of cash to push the development of the autonomous vehicles industry in the UK.
Clark used the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ Connected conference to announce an initial £100 million investment, which will also be matched by industry. £55 million will be used to create a connected and autonomous vehicle testing infrastructure cluster between London and Birmingham, offering companies various test tracks and funding, according to the Telegraph.
“Companies around the world are making major investments and this offers long-term value for the UK as we punch above our weight,” said Clark. “If the UK doesn’t take this opportunity, many other countries will.”
The investment itself is part of a wider ambition to take the UK to the top of the worldwide autonomous vehicle industry. Why Clark and co. believe the UK has the expertise to lead the autonomous vehicle industry considering the traditional car industry has almost declined to non-existence is beyond us. What’s next? Maybe we could have a go at tackling the sport of Sumo Wrestling?
Also at the conference, BMW’s Ian Robertson gave a frank warning to the industry; research and development may not be an issue, in fact autonomous vehicles could be a reality within five years, however regulation may hold the industry back.
“Autonomous vehicles will be capable of making decisions in the event of an accident that could result in life or death,” said Robertson. “But I don’t think we will reach a stage where regulation can match that.”
While Robertson’s claim might grab headlines, it should hardly come as a surprise. This would not be the first time bureaucrats have dragged behind the industry, and despite the sense of arrogance and self-importance which beams around boring regulators, it would appear the same story is to repeat itself.
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