The new budget statement from the UK’s finance minister, Philip Hammond, will include measures meant to support the development of self-driving car and plug-in electric vehicle tech, as well as artificial intelligence and telecommunications, the UK’s finance ministry has revealed.
The move represents a further example of the UK’s government’s recent and ongoing efforts to establish itself as a research and development center for emerging technologies — such as artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, electric vehicles, battery technologies, and next-gen nuclear.
It also seemingly represents an attempt to generate some positive PR in an otherwise dismal political environment — as the ongoing Brexit negotiation slog continues to damage the credibility of the current administration.
“The finance ministry said Hammond would announce regulatory changes to the driverless car industry so that developers could apply to test their vehicles on UK roads without a human operator for the first time. He wants fully self-driving cars to be on UK roads in as little as 3 years,” Reuters reports.
“The ministry said a new £400 million (~$530 million) Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund would also be created, improving access to finance for businesses to develop charge points across the UK. Also £100 million would be provided in grants to help people buy battery-electric vehicles.”
Elsewhere, around £75 million will reportedly be invested into artificial intelligence development, £160 million into 5G mobile network development, £100 million into hiring new computer science teachers, and £76 million into “boosting” digital and construction skills.
Interestingly, the budget statement will also reportedly include a consultation on the taxing of single-use plastics (such as plastic bags, etc.).
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