Like it or loathe it, it looks like driverless car technology is coming to the UK. Today, February 11th, the industry was given the green light to start testing these vehicles on public roads.
Because of this change in UK regulations, this means the country is now an excellent location for developing such technology. It is hoped that the adoption of driverless cars will result in a reduction in accidents and will help traffic to flow more smoothly.
Claire Perry, transport minister, said that she thinks driverless cars “are the future”.
She added: “I want Britain to be at the forefront of this exciting new development, to embrace a technology that could transform our roads and open up a brand new route for global investment.
“These are still early days but today is an important step. The trials present a fantastic opportunity for this country to take a lead internationally in the development of this new technology.”
Details of the steps towards driverless technology and how regulations have been changed to allow for driverless technology are detailed in a review by the government.
To celebrate the launch of the review, Ms Perry and business secretary Vince Cable will be visiting Greenwich, which is where a project is located that has received £19 million in funding from the government to trial driverless cars.
The project in Greenwich, along with similar ones in Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry, follow on from work that was started last year at Oxford University as part of a partnership with Nissan.
These ministers will get to see the first official trials of the Meridian shuttle in Greenwich, a fully autonomous vehicle. They will also be unveiling a prototype of a driverless pod that is set to be tested in a number of public areas, like Milton Keynes.
Other autonomous vehicles involved in the trials will be shown to the ministers, such as a BAE wildcat vehicle. This vehicle saw BAE systems putting in many years of advanced research and development and is soon to be tested in Bristol.
Speaking about the drive towards autonomous vehicles, Mr Cable said: “The projects we are now funding in Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry will help to ensure we are world-leaders in this field and able to benefit from what is expected to be a £900 billion industry by 2025.”
He said that staying ahead when it comes to innovation in the automotive industry is important for jobs, growth and society in the U, which is why he chose to launch a competition to create driverless cars.
Mr Cable noted that the automotive industry in the UK is already at the cutting edge. He gave a nod to the work on Formula 1 technology that is being done in the Midlands as well as the manufacturing of all-electric cars in Sunderland.
The uptake in driverless technology is considered to be the next step for the automotive industry, following on for the development of advanced driver assistance systems that have helped to improve car safety and lower insurance premiums.
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