Driverless cars are coming to the streets of London, government officials in London have given a go ahead for driver-free vehicles to be tested on the country’s public roads. The move comes as a bid to gain the interest of companies developing driverless technology to invest in the United Kingdom. UK government officials will be making a review of road regulations in order to allow the driver free vehicles on the road by 2017.
The first trial is under way in southeast London and government officials are expected to praise the country’s position as an emerging leader in advanced technology. The first UK driverless model was designed to help shoppers and the elderly travel short distances. The driverless prototype, designed by engineering group RDM Group will be hitting UK streets later this year. Testing requires that the vehicles have a person present who can take control of the automotive if necessary.
This move will pour into the greater Autodrive project which is being led by the government’s Transport Systems Catapult which is a UK think tank for intelligent mobility. Driver-free vehicles are being seen as a way to vastly reduce road accidents and improve road safety in England and the rest of the UK. Britain’s Department of Transport is now creating a working street code for driverless automobiles, which will be published spring for summer vehicle testing across the country. Opening testing will take place in Milton Keynes, U.K. to make sure the new vehicles meet the U.K.’s Highway Code model, before the slow introduction of a 40 vehicle roll out into other UK cities. Several car makers from Telsa to Google have been working hard to showcase their latest advancements in an increasingly competitive field.
The potential for driver-free cars in their full form could mean increased mobility for those in the U.K. without a driver’s license, like the elderly while also reducing the time spent driving behind the wheel for drivers in England. Most current driverless cars can run on an eight-hour charge and can transport two people with baggage to a range of 40 miles. Britain’s car industry is growing with U.K. car exports doubling in the past 10 years leading government lawmakers to hope driver-free technology will sustain the industry for years to come. British government ministers state there are no legislative barriers to testing the automobiles, but that there is a need to clarify issues of criminal and civil liability if the vehicle is involved in a traffic accident.
The driverless car testing move as been created by government officials to show the country’s potential for being a driverless technology production hub. The driverless car industry is expanding globally and is expected to be worth billions of dollars by 2025. During the upcoming car trials in Milton Keynes, the government and Jaguar Land Rover will demonstrate the new technology plus self-driving car pods designed for the area. The effort is being conducted to stress test driverless vehicles in challenging urban areas to gauge public reaction. Driverless cars coming to the U.K. will likely make the country one of the forerunners of this technology around the world.
By Tara Newlands
Article photo by Jaguar MENA – Flickr License
Featured image by Department for Transport – Flickr License