Driverless cars to be tested in UK

12.00 | 16 July 2013 | | 5 comments

The first trial of driverless cars will take place on Britain’s roads later this year as part of the Government’s £28 billion road strategy, according to the Telegraph.

Oxford University researchers have been working with Nissan on the technology. The team has already tested a car on a private road but has now been granted permission for trials on roads with other traffic.

Although the cars will drive themselves, a back-up driver will be in the car as a safety precaution. Initially, the cars will be tested on lightly used rural and suburban roads.

Underpinning the trials is the belief that cars – which already have an array of collision avoidance systems – can be made even safer, reports the Telegraph.

Google has already tested driverless cars in the USA.

In Oxford, scientists have adapted a Nissan Leaf. The robot car is capable of running on a predetermined familiar route, although the driver can reassert control by tapping on the brakes.

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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    I found this video following some comments on this story on twitter. It is of Sebastian Thrun outlining his thoughts and vision behind the development of the Google driverless car that has been running in the US for a number of years.

    Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire
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    I think we may be in danger of dismissing this initiative too quickly. There may be specific circumstances where cars that drive themselves could have a role to play. For example, it could be that driverless cars may be safer than some very elderly drivers. And with an ageing population, there is a real challenge in keeping people independent and mobile for longer. A car that could drive an elderly person from their home to the doctor’s surgery or to hospital appointments, or the supermarket, could be very useful. I don’t know enough to say whether this technology will be entirely safe but have sufficient confidence in the researchers to let them continue with the experiment. If driverless car is involved in a collision I guess we will all hear about it pretty quickly!

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News
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    I had a “driverless car” once. I left it on my drive overnight and in the morning I found it had taken itself off for a drive (never to return). But seriously, if I wanted to go from A to B without driving, I’d call a taxi.

    Martin, Suffolk
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    Having worked on the safety of systems since 1990, I can see no way that this could ever become a reality. The complexity, integrity requirements, liability issues, and for dozens of other reasons, this could never be a practical proposition. It’s obviously attractive to academic researchers and those with a vested commercial interest in the technology, but that is not a good reason to put the road using public at intolerable risk.

    Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans
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    There are so many scenarios on the road which I don’t believe a driverless car could cope with. It’s often been said that, when driving, to avoid accidents it’s best to presume every other driver on the road is an idiot and I’m afraid with all due respect to the boffins behind this, I will still be doing this – even more so – if one of these cars ever came near me on the road. How do you make eye contact with a driverless car?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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