Lilium Jet is developing a prototype that will soon be undergoing tests (picture shows an artist’s impression of the ‘car’)

UK’s driverless and flying car plans revealed in government paper

Image credit: Lilium Jet

The government has set forth proposals for how the UK’s transport infrastructure could be transformed thanks to the advent of new technologies such as flying cars and self-driving vehicles.

A wave of electric cargo bikes, vans, quadricycles and micro vehicles are slated to replace vans in UK cities as part of plans to transform last-mile deliveries, while self-driving vehicles and shared travel could also allow the majority of parking spaces to be removed in city centres, opening areas up for redevelopment and potentially hundreds of thousands of new urban homes.

The government has published a new paper, The Future of Mobility, as part of its industrial strategy. It sets itself a “Grand Challenge” to transform UK transport to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make travel safer, improve accessibility, and take advantage of economic opportunities afforded by the new tech.

The paper also confirms £12.1m in funding for six projects working on simulation and modelling to aid the development of driverless vehicles.

In March the government commissioned a three-year review designed to answer pressing legal questions about how driverless cars may be handled as they are deployed on British roads in the near future. If the review is concluded to schedule, the UK could see driverless cars on its roads by 2021.

The report also outlines how internet connected vehicles could not only link with each other but with traffic lights and motorway signs to avert congestion on roads, reduce traffic and improve air quality. In addition it proposes that drones could be used to support emergency services and improve infrastructure inspections.

“We are on the cusp of an exciting and profound change in how people, goods and services move around the country which is set to be driven by extraordinary innovation,” Transport Minister Jesse Norman said. “This could bring significant benefits to people right across the country and presents enormous economic opportunities for the UK, with autonomous vehicles sales set to be worth up to £52bn by 2035.”

The news comes as Ian Robertson, former board member at BMW, has been appointed as Business Champion to help advise, shape and develop the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge.

“A transport revolution in the way people and goods move around will see more changes in the next 10 years than the previous hundred,” he said. “As the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge Business Champion, I’m looking forward to working with the government to help the UK build on its existing strengths and capitalise on that opportunity.”

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