We now know the reason for the gratuitous £150 million paid by Google to the government three weeks ago — supposedly for back payment of taxes. It was a thank-you for the encouragement that our Finance Minister, George Osborne (that is, our real Prime Minister) has been giving to the idea of driverless vehicles in the past year or so. Or perhaps it was a pre-payment for the trials of driverless lorry platoons that are going to take place on infrequently used portions of the M6 north of Preston leading to Scotland.
Osborne will be announcing it in his budget speech next month, though quite how such an item belongs in a speech about taxes and national finances is a mystery to me. Perhaps he didn’t have any Dinky toys when he was a child and now he’s making up for it !
Edmund King, the president of the Automobile Association, has his doubts: “The problem with the UK motorway network is that we have more entrances and exits of our motorways than any other motorways in Europe or indeed the world, and therefore it’s very difficult to have a 44 tonne 10-lorry platoon, because other vehicles need to get past the platoon to enter or exit the road.”
That sounds like an unanswerable argument to me — for this country, anyway.