By Debbie Holden 13 Jun 2018 7 min read

Britain steps up plans to become leader in self-driving cars

The government is offering £25 million ($33 million) to up to six projects designed to test self-driving – and self-parking – car technology. This is 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 10 years.

Autonomous technology has developed rapidly over the last five years, with the likes of Google and traditional motor manufacturers designing driverless cars.

Speaking at an interview in London, Harrington said: “It’s a very exciting thing, we want to provide the right environment for people to come to this country and invest.”

The driverless market is estimated to reach a worth of £907 billion (approx. $1.2 trillion) by 2035 and the UK believes it can go head to head with the current biggest player, the US. China is also in the race, making serious investments in this area.

Last year, the UK set aside £250 million to be allocated before 2020 for companies to analyse self-driving vehicles in environments from city streets to highways and to fund prototype demonstration projects. Harrington is convinced that the UK has the advantage.

“The UK is already leading the way in developing this technology and today’s funding will bring self-driving vehicles one step closer to becoming a normal feature on UK roads and could, in time, make learning to parallel park a thing of the past.”

According to The Register, some British firms have already started work on self-parking car tech, including those in the UK Autodrive consortium, which is trialling its version in Milton Keynes. German car parts maker Bosch is perhaps slightly ahead of the UK’s efforts, showcasing a demo of a working prototype to the world’s press at its annual Connected World conference.

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