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Budget 2017: Chancellor set to invest in technology

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, is expected to announce additional financial support for a range of technology projects in the upcoming Budget.

The Chancellor has been under growing pressure to provide a clearer vision for the economy and in a series of interviews over the weekend he chose to focus on investment in new technology.

“Our aim is to build a country fit for the future,” and to create a leader in the “technological revolution,” Hammond said.

The Treasury is said to looking to provide £75m in funding for artificial intelligence; £400m for electric car charge points; £160m for next-generation 5G mobile networks across the UK and £100m for an additional 8,000 fully-qualified computer science teachers supported by a new National Centre for Computing as well as a £76m boost to digital and construction skills.

However, most attention fell on his commitment to see driverless cars on the road in the UK by 2021.

According to Hammond sweeping regulatory reforms are expected to remove the legal constraints and rules that currently apply to other EU nations and much of the US, when it comes to allowing driverless cars to be tested without a human operator inside.

The automotive industry has responded positively with Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, welcoming the news and voicing strong support for the government’s aim of making the UK more attractive to those businesses seeking to develop, test and build driverless vehicles.

At the same time, the Law Commission will look to set out a new regulatory framework that addresses the issue of liability, giving the industry greater certainty when it comes to investing in this new technology.

As part of £1billion in new technology funding promised in the Budget, money is also to be set aside for the National Cyber Security Centre to ensure the security of the UK’s future 5G network, as well as testing on roads to help provide the network needed to support driverless cars.

Neil Tyler

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