Driverless cars to be on UK roads by 2021 says Hammond 0

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Driverless cars could be on UK roads as early as 2021 if government plans to invest in the sector come to fruition.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said in an interview with the BBC that the aim was to have “fully driverless cars” without the need for a safety operator in use by 2021.

“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,” he said.

He did also admit that to date, he had not travelled in a driverless car himself.

“I’m promised to go in one when we visit the West Midlands tomorrow,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

The government made changes to legislation in the recent budget, allowing developers to apply for licenses to begin testing on UK roads.

Asked about the potential loss of jobs for drivers, he said the country could not “hide from change” and the government had to equip people with the skills “to take up new careers”.

The plans come hot on the heels of the UK’s largest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover beginning its autonomous testing on public roads for the first time.

The trials saw cars fitted with sensors to pedestrians, traffic and signals take place in Coventry city centre. All cars participating in the tests had a human on board in case of emergencies.

It is thought that the self-driving industry could be worth as much as £28 billion to the UK economy by 2035, providing jobs for 27,000 workers.

The technology does have its critics however. The former Top Gear host, Jeremy Clarkson, said he was travelling in a prototype self-driving car that made two mistakes recently, one of which could have killed him, he claimed.

Writing in the Sunday Times magazine, Mr Clarkson said the incidents convinced him the technology was still “a very long way off”, adding: “For now, we’re miles away from it.”

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