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Government wants fully self-driving cars on UK roads by 2021

Self-driving cars will be rolling around on UK roads by 2012, if the government’s automotive ambitions come to fruition.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the government has a target of 2021 to facilitate the rise of “fully driverless cars” which don’t need a person behind the wheel to keep an eye on things.

“Some would say that’s a bold move, but we have to embrace these technologies if we want the UK to lead the next industrial revolution,” Hammond told the BBC, while also admitting he’s yet to take a ride in an autonomous car.

The Chancellor’s comments come ahead of the Budget set to be announced on Wednesday, which Hammond is expected to announce the opportunity for tech developers to apply for testing self-driving cars on UK roads.

The likes of Jaguar Land Rover have already been testing driverless cars on UK roads but only in certain areas; London’s Greenwich borough has been used as a testing ground for autonomous vehicles, while Jaguar has been doing its testing in the Coventry area.

But the Budget and the government’s ambitions could open up more UK roads to autonomous vehicle testing, particularly as the government is set to plough hundreds of millions of pounds into technologies that support the development of driverless cars, such as artificial intelligence research and the development of 5G mobile broadband networks.

However, 2021 could be seen as perhaps a too ambitions target, as there’s still a lot of confusion around legislation to who is to blame in an autonomous car crash, and there are still reports of driverless cars having fender benders during testing, even if the crashes aren’t their fault.

It would probably be more likely that more cars with advanced autonomous driving features and assistance system will pop up by 2021, rather than have 100% self-driving cars shooting along UK roads.

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