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Government pledges £20m to driverless car studies

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The government has launched a £20 million fund aimed at putting the UK at the forefront of the driverless vehicle market

Ministers are seeking bidders to put forward proposals which could cover the environment around such vehicles.

The government has also announced plans to establish a new policy unit - the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles - to co-ordinate government work and help overcome obstacles to getting autonomous vehicles on UK roads. In addition it has published a code of practice for testing the new technology.

Transport minister Andrew Jones said: ‘Driverless cars will bring great benefits to our society and economy and I want the UK to lead the way in developing this exciting technology.

‘Our code of practice clearly shows that the UK is in the best position when it comes to testing driverless cars and embracing the motoring of the future. We now look forward to working with industry to make this a reality.’

Bidders for the cash can also put forward proposals covering issues including safety, reliability, along with how they can communicate with each other and help an ageing population.

They will be asked to match fund projects with their own funds.

Steve Yianni, chief executive of research body Transport Systems Catapult, said: ‘With this new initiative we could see the UK general public gaining access to self-driving vehicles sooner than anyone has previously expected.’

‘Self-driving vehicles are seen by many as the future of personal transport, with the eventual promise of fully-automated vehicles expected to bring significant societal benefits.’

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