The Government's Giving More Cash To Autonomous Cars, But Jeremy Clarkson Thinks They're Bad

By Tom Pritchard on at

Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, is set to deliver the next government budget on Wednesday, and with it are plans to announce new incentives to encourage development of autonomous and electric cars within the UK.

Included in the budget are rules that will let carmakers test autonomous vehicles on UK roads, £400 million to help establish an EV charging network, and £100 million of incentives to help decrease the cost of buying an electric car. The goal is t have full autonomous cars on British roads by the year 2021.

Meanwhile noted car snob Jeremy Clarkson thinks autonomous cars are bad. Writing in yesterday's Sunday Times, Clarkson spoke of an autonomous car he was driving along the M4. According to him the car made two mistakes over the course of 50 miles, leading him to fear for his life.

Clarkson wouldn't name the company that made the car for legal reasons, but should that matter if it really did try and kill him? Part of me wonders whether he was driving a Tesla which, despite having a feature called 'autopilot', isn't close to being fully autonomous. Clarkson made his views on human-less cars very clear:

"You drive one of your driverless cars over the Death Road in Bolivia and I’ll buy one. Sit there with your hands folded and let it drive you up there, then squeeze past a lorry with half the tyre hanging over a 1,000ft drop while the car drives itself. Fine, I’ll buy into it.”

While I'm sceptical of his other claim, that does sound like a good test. What's to stop car companies from taking autonomous vehicles to the world's most dangerous roads as a way of showing off their capabilities? That sounds like the perfect publicity stunt to me, even though it's not necessary to validate the concept of self-driving cars - because 99 per cent of them will never, ever have to deal with situations like that.

Other techworthy additions to the next budget (that we know about) include £75 million for the artificial intelligence industry, £160 million to help launch 5G networks across the UK, £100 million to pay for an additional 8,000 computer science teachers, and £76 million to boost development of digital and construction skills. [Reuters | Sunday Times via Independent]

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