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UK government is in talks with Google about autonomous cars

Published: December 15,2015, London

Google considers the UK a potential market for its driverless cars, according to minutes of meetings between the UK government and Google representatives. Between January 2014 and July 2015, Google held five rounds of talks with the Department for Transport about its self-driving car project. Google is said to be full of praise for Britain’s driverless car rules and how they have been implemented so far.

Chris Urmson, head of Google’s self-driving car project, and Jennifer Haroon, the tech company’s head of business, attended the meetings. Officials from various government departments such as the Treasury and UK Trade & Investment were also involved in the discussions.

The documents, which were obtained under the Freedom of Information act (FoI), show that Google X, the company’s experimental division, has had five meetings with the Department of Transport, to discuss matters such as safety and the infrastructure needed to support such vehicles.
It was left unclear if the government will allow the trials on UK roads, even though some companies have already tested their autonomous vehicles in places like Milton Keynes and Coventry.

“Driverless cars will bring great benefits to our society, the economy and road safety and we are investing millions into research and trials for the motoring of the future,” a spokesman for the Department for Transport said.

“The UK is in a unique position to lead the way for the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles. We are making sure our laws are in step with this fast evolving technology and are working with industry to keep the UK at the forefront of its development.”

Google X’s head of policy, Sarah Hunter, met with government officials in February this year, stating afterwards the tech company was “very positive about the non-regulatory approach being taken in the UK [which] places the UK in a good position and could be seen as an example of best practice.”

The Department for Transport’s Michael Hurwitz explained Google’s driverless cars initiative is very important to show the UK’s momentum in the area.

Source: The Telegraph and IT ProPortal


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