Space tourism, driverless cars and drones set for Queen's Speech lift off

 
Lynsey Barber
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Plans for ground control for commercial space flights in the UK will be announced (Source: Getty)

New plans for driverless cars on Britain's roads are to be announced in the Queen's speech this week, as are proposals for creating an ambitious UK-based space tourism industry by 2018 along with drone-friendly innovations.

“Driverless cars and commercial space flight might seem like something science fiction, but the economic potential of the new technology is huge and I am determined the UK gets maximum benefit," said transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Read more: The UK is looking for people to test driverless cars

Hubs for commercial space flights which hav been dubbed "Gatwick for space", like those being turned into reality by Elon Musk's Space X, Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin and Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, will be among the plans for Britain to increase money raised from space endeavours from £12bn to £40bn - a 10 per cent share of the global market - by 2030.

Airports in Wales, Cornwall and several in Scotland have already submitted pitches to become spacehubs by 2018.

The space tourism proposals will also secure low-cost access to space for smaller UK firms, encourage investment in spaceplane operations, spaceports and related emerging technology companies as well as creating highly skilled jobs.

“If we want to propel Britain’s economy into the modern age, and generate the jobs that will come with it, it is vital that the right rules are in place to allow new transportation to flourish. Having a long term economic plan that really works for the country means putting in place legislation that puts us at the heart of the modern transport revolution,” said McLoughlin.

Driverless cars which are already well ahead in the trial stage in the UK will come under new legislation so that they can be insured under ordinary policies. The fast growing industry is expected to be worth as much as £900bn globally by 2025.

Read more: UK set for take off in "drones for business" industry worth billions

Meanwhile, the Department for Transport will explore innovations to grow the drone industry and consider new legislation after the results of a public consultation on the technology over the summer.

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