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July 20, 2015

UK gov stumps up £20m fund for driverless cars

Industry ‘now firmly positioned at the centre of future mobility’.

By Jimmy Nicholls

The UK government is offering £20m of funding for the development of driverless cars and vehicles, in what ministers are hailing as a major boost for the British motor industry.

Interested firms are asked to put forward ideas focusing on safety and reliability, particularly concerning how driverless cars can help the elderly gain more independence in their lives.

Successful proposals will win a portion of the funds, but companies are obliged to match that with their own money.

Sajid Javid, business secretary and Bromsgrove MP, said: "To boost productivity Britain will need to capitalise on new technologies like driverless vehicles, securing high skilled jobs for those who want to work hard and get on, and contributing to a more prosperous future for the whole of the country.

"Our world beating automotive industry, strengths in innovation and light touch regulatory approach to testing driverless technology combine to make the UK market competitive and an attractive destination for investors."

Alongside the money the government has also developed a code of practice to maintain the safety of driverless vehicles, a major cause of concern as Google, Tesla and traditional motoring giants develop the technology.

The scheme will however see the UK compete against other countries investing heavily in driverless cars, Detroit in the US having just opened the $10m (£6.4m) Mcity testing ground on Monday, backed by the likes of Toyota, GM and Honda.Comment from

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Nick Reed, academy director at the Transport Research Laboratory, said: "Much research and development is required before driverless cars become commonplace on our streets, but the launch of the Code of Practice brings this vision a step closer.

"It sets the scene for the safe evaluation and development of highly and fully automated vehicles for years to come and is another example of how the UK is leading the charge in this area.

"Combined with the £20m funding and the launch of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, the UK is now firmly positioned at the centre of future mobility."

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