The UK government today announced that driverless cars will be able to get on the country’s roads as early as January 2015, less than half a year from now. It’s the latest push to attract research and development over to British shores—something the UK has been trying to lay a claim on since at least last year.
The announcement by business secretary Vince Cable follows chancellor George Osborne’s promise of a £10 million ($17 million) prize to fund a testing ground for autonomous cars. Now, R&D projects can bid for that, with up to three cities set to get a share of the pot.
These schemes will see the first driverless cars on public roads; regular passengers (driverless drivers?) won’t be zipping up and down the motorways in dorky little self-driving pods just yet. It’s an open competition, and projects that want to be considered have to include a business partner and local authority partner, with a registration deadline of September 24.
“This competition for funding has the potential to establish the UK as the global hub for the development and testing of driverless vehicles in real-world urban environments, helping to deepen our understanding of the impact on road users and wider society,” said Iain Gray, CEO of the Technology Strategy Board, in a statement.
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