The UK government has revealed the first £20m of a fund designed to ease the passage of driverless cars into society and a Code of Practice to govern their development and use.
The government wants a piece of a growing smart vehicle market that is predicted to be worth £900bn by 2025.
Investment already exists and driverless cars are already clocking up UK miles, but the government is looking to further support development. £100m in investment was announced during the Budget and the £20m represents the first stage.
"To boost productivity Britain will need to capitalise on new technologies like driverless vehicles, securing high skilled jobs for those who want to work hard and get on, and contributing to a more prosperous future for the whole of the country," said business secretary Sajid Javid as he introduced the funding.
"Our world beating automotive industry, strengths in innovation and light touch regulatory approach to testing driverless technology combine to make the UK market competitive and an attractive destination for investors."
The money is supported by a code of practice which should ensure that all development work is aimed in the right direction. It should also settle some concerns about the market and its challenges.
The government said that funding will be provided on a like-for-like basis to organisations that present coherent plans for automated vehicles and examples of the social benefits.
"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," added transport minister Andrew Jones.
"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."
Professor Nick Reed, technical lead of the Gateway driverless car project and a director at the UK Transport Research Laboratory, explained that the funding and the code will give the market a jump start.
"Much research and development is required before driverless cars become commonplace on our streets, but the launch of the Code of Practice brings this vision a step closer," he said.
"It sets the scene for the safe evaluation and development of highly and fully automated vehicles for years to come, and is another example of how the UK is leading the charge in this area."
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