UK Budget 2017 pushes 5G and driverless future tech

The UK Spring Budget was revealed today and in it the government laid clear its intention to heavily invest in “cutting-edge technology and innovation” to keep Britain at the “forefront of the global technology revolution.”

The “cutting-edge” technologies that received particular attention in the budget included AI, robotics, batteries for electric vehicles, self-driving car tech, and 5G

Breaking it down, the government has promised to commit £16 million to create a 5G facility that will trial the technology and work with leading 5G research institutions to continue to improve it. 

£200 million will also be funneled into the creation of new full-fibre broadband networks in order to accelerate their delivery to the public and private sector and accelerate the internet speed available to the country overall. 

Government-funded disruption

This is a lot of money going into the improvement of the country’s digital infrastructure. 

However, a larger sum of £270 million will be directed towards what the government calls “disruptive technologies” including biotechnology, driverless vehicles and robotics in the belief that these will be the sectors that “transform the UK economy.”

The initial £270 million investment will be specifically directed towards the development of batteries that will power the next generation of electric vehicles; developing AI and robot systems to be used in hazardous work environments including off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining; and the acceleration of development and access to new drugs and treatments through new medicine manufacturing technologies.

Not only will investing in these things improve the UK’s standing when it comes to technology and research it’ll have an impact on the country’s public health and carbon footprint. 

However, the sums being committed aren’t quite as much as other countries are managing. The US Department of Transportation, for example, proposed to invest £3.3 billion ($4 billion) in self-driving cars when Obama was president. 

Only time will tell whether the amount of money being invested will be enough. At the very least, it highlights to the world that the UK is a country to keep an eye on when it comes to job opportunities in their fields. 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.