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Government backs driverless cars with £20m funding boost

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The bid to bring driverless cars to Britain's roads has received a £20 million boost from the UK government, reports Tech Week Europe.

Alongside the investment, a new body has been created by the Department for Transport and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), called the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV).

C-CAV will drive efforts to put the UK at the forefront of innovations within the market and co-ordinate government policy on driverless cars and connected technology. The market is expected to be worth £900 billion by 2025, said Business Secretary Sajid Javid.

The investment will fund R&D for driverless vehicles into areas such as safety, reliability, how vehicles can communicate with each other and the environment around them, and how the vehicles can help give greater independence to an ageing population.

The cash forms part of £100 million funding for research into intelligent mobility announced by the Chancellor in the Spring 2015 Budget.

According to a recent report by auditors KPMG, Britain's industries are keen to promote driverless technology, since connected and autonomous cars will create 320,000 UK jobs, delivering "huge benefits to society and the economy".

This includes delivering a £51 billion boost to the UK economy and the potential to reduce serious road traffic accidents by more than 25,000 a year by 2030.

News about the funding coincides with the first injury involving a driverless car. One of Google's driverless Lexus cars was involved in an incident recently, leaving three of its employees with minor whiplash following a collision in California.

Close up of a car headlightGoogle was quick to point out that the incident was due to another driver rear-ending the driverless car, The Telegraph reported.

Chris Urmson, who leads the company's driverless car project, said it was only the 14th accident in six years and almost 2 million miles of testing. Not a single accident had been caused by Google's cars, he claimed.

"The clear theme is human error and inattention," he added.

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