The UK government has revealed that it will invest a further £38m in driverless cars, as part of a £1bn investment in ‘cutting-edge' technologies - all announced in the same week that the government declared a general election for June.
Business secretary Greg Clark announced that the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) would commit more than £1bn in taxpayers' money over the next four years to six key areas:
- Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI);
- Self-driving vehicles;
- Healthcare and medicine;
- Manufacturing and materials of the future;
- Batteries for clean and flexible energy storage; and,
- Satellites and space technology.
Three of the areas - healthcare, energy, and robotics and AI, were announced in the 2017 Spring Budget - but Clark has now confirmed the total investment in each field, subject to business case approval.
Robotics and AI will receive an investment of £93m. The government claimed that this would help "make industry and public services more productive by developing AI and robotics systems that can be deployed in extreme environments which occur in off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining".
Healthcare will get £197m to develop what the government called "first of a kind technologies for the manufacture of medicines that will speed up patient access to new drugs and treatments", while £246m will be spent on developing clean and flexible energy.
Of the new ISCF investments, the additional £38m for driverless cars will be spent on new research and development projects. The government wants to work with industry partners to develop AI and control systems needed to ensure the UK is at the forefront of 'the driverless cars revolution' - a sector predicted to be worth £63bn by 2035.
This will be in addition to the initial £100m investment the government has already made in research into autonomous vehicle technology.
Industry is expected to match this £100m investment - making the total amount invested £200m, prior to today's announcement. Part of the funds are to be used for a driverless vehicle hub based in the Midlands.
The other two areas to receive ISCF grants are manufacturing and materials of the future, which will get £26m and space and satellite technologies which will receive £97m.
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