quietly slips extra cash to self-driving car trials

£9m added, fourth city added

The UK government is adding another £9m to the pot for driverless car trials in Blighty, allowing four cities to start the tests next year instead of three.

Although it didn’t feature in Chancellor George Osborne’s speech, the Autumn Statement said the UK is adding the extra funds into the previously announced £10m competition to host driverless car trials announced in July. The four lucky metropoles will be Coventry, Bristol, Milton Keynes, and Greenwich in London.

The spare cash to add an extra city to the trial is coming from the Department for Transport, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and HM Treasury.

When the government first announced the competition, it said the winning projects would need to be “business-led”.

“This competition for funding has the potential to establish the UK as the global hub for the development and testing of driverless vehicles in real-world urban environments, helping to deepen our understanding of the impact on road users and wider society,” Iain Gray, CEO of the UK’s innovation agency the Technology Strategy Board, said at the time.

“The ability to test driverless cars at scale, when married to the UK’s unique strengths in transport technologies and urban planning, will also attract further investment, helping to establish new design and manufacturing supply chains, driving forward UK economic growth," he added.

Business Secretary Vince Cable also said in July that Blighty would be looking to change the Highway Code to allow for driverless cars, in the hopes that the country can become a centre of research for the potentially lucrative new industry. ®

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