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The Great British Budget: Good news for automated driving

Automated Driving features among other hi-tech in the UK Budget Speech (Photo: Fotolia)

Funding for robotics, 5G network and driverless cars steals the headlines after the Budget Speech.

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Funding for robotics, 5G network and driverless cars steals the headlines after the Budget Speech.

The British Government is putting its money where the technology is. As reported by the BBC, Phil Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer has pledged 270 million pounds (310 million euros) "to keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies like biotech, robotic systems and driverless cars."

The announcement was made during a key event in Britain's financial calendar: the Budget Speech. Taking place ahead of the new fiscal year, MPs gather in the Houses of Parliament to hear how national money will be spent in the coming months.

And this year seems to be the year of the tech - with robotic systems and driverless cars specifically mentioned. Another main talking point is the 16 million pounds (18 million pounds) lined up to create a 5G hub which will trial the forthcoming mobile data technology. The aim is to increase coverage over the country's road network. Given that 5G is a strong candidate for future car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications, this is a win for automated driving too.

The funds for this hi-tech research are coming from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF): a pot to be spent on innovation and infrastructure over the next five years. But is it enough?

Well compared to some other countries it is somewhat overshadowed. In a similar announcement on the other side of the Atlantic last year for example, President Obama proposed a 10-year plan to invest 4 billion dollars (3.3 billion pounds) into autonomous driving.

Some, however, are more worried about how it stacks up against what the big players can offer - as robotics expert Prof. Noel Sharkey from the University of Sheffield pointed out: "The Government says it wants this to be the leading robotics country in the world, but Google and others are spending far more, so it's ultimately chicken feed by comparison."

Read the full article on BBC here.

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