UK to become world development centre for autonomous vehicles

Image of driverless car

The Government has announced its intentions for the UK to become world development centre for autonomous vehicles – although we are a little behind as Japan and some states in the US are already carrying out their own driverless vehicle testing, Google’s own self drive car has recently completed 500,000 road testing miles.
A £10m prize is to be created for funding any town or city willing to become a testing area for driverless cars, Milton Keynes is already ahead of the game as it is currently conducting its own experiments with driverless pod vehicles. The government has stated that a review of the legislative and regulatory framework will be conducted during 2014; this will be to ensure that all requirements are in place to allow for the incorporation of autonomous vehicles on the roads of Britain. The announcement was part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s National Infrastructure Plan and it is hoped that 100 completely autonomous vehicles will be running on the pathways of the winning town or city by the middle of 2017, the intention will be that collisions with pedestrians will be prevented by the use of sensors.
A recent Department of Transport report said that driverless vehicles “maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front at a set speed and without deviating from their lane – all without the driver’s input”. There is also the eco value to be taken into consideration as autonomous vehicles are potentially safer and more efficient than those driven by people. Cities will be safer and greener thinks Brad Templeton, software engineer and advisor to Google, “It will radically change the amount of energy we use, how congested our streets are and eliminate most of the parking lots that take up a huge amount of space in our cities”.
The basic technology is already with us, so with only the legal and infrastructure issues to be resolved, it really does look like driverless cars will be on UK roads by the end of the decade.

Special Thanks to Steve Jurvetson for providing the image.