The United Kingdom could have fully-autonomous cars driving on its roads by 2021, according to new reports.
Autocar says the British government is expected to announce plans to introduce legislation allowing driverless vehicles to be tested and driven on public roads as part of this week's Budget, which will require a change to the UK Road Traffic Act.
Other developments expected as part of the announcement include a 400 million-pound ($698.56 mullion) investment in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure like charging points, and a further 100 million pounds ($174.64 million) towards boosting clean car sales. That means ongoing incentives for EVs and hybrid sales, something we don't see in Australia.
This news comes right after British automotive group Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) announced a ramp-up in its self-driving trials, and used public roads for the first time as part of the UK Autodrive initiative.
"We support [the] government’s measures to make the UK one of the best places in the world to develop, test and sell connected and autonomous vehicles," Mike Hawes, CEO of the UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) told the British publication.
"These vehicles will transform our roads and society, dramatically reducing accidents and saving thousands of lives every year, while adding billions of pounds to the economy."
"We look forward to continuing industry’s collaboration with government to ensure the UK can be among the first to grasp the benefits of this exciting new technology," he added.
In addition to the investments into new-age automotive technologies and infrastructure, chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond, is also expected to announce increased taxes on diesel vehicles in an effort to slow sales of oil burners in the wake of the Dieselgate emissions scandal.
The changes are part of the UK's push to become a global leader in autonomous vehicles.
Meanwhile in Australia, it seems the process of legalising driverless vehicle testing will take a little longer than our British counterparts.
Speaking with CarAdvice, Luke Donnellan, minister for roads and transport, said Victoria, could be "five or six years away" from large-scale autonomous vehicle trials.
"In terms of when it might happen, I’m cautious about making a prediction on that, but yes, that is the technology that is coming our way, and we will need to look at how we can accommodate the testing for that," he said.
"As for when it will happen? It might be five or six years away, but that’s very much what we’re preparing ourselves for."
"At a state government level, we’re working with the National Transport Commission (NTC) to develop a standardised set of rules for testing autonomous capacity on our roads," Donnellan added.
However, Victoria's La Trobe University recently deployed its first driverless shuttle bus (above) to gain a better understanding of how autonomous vehicles interact with other road users and the general public.
The 15-seat Navya shuttle has no steering wheel or pedals, and is the second vehicle of its type to be used in a local driverless trial, following the Intellibus that was trialled last year in Western Australia.
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