The Government has today (11 Feb) given approval for the testing of ‘driverless cars’ on public roads, following a regulatory review which concluded that “the UK is uniquely positioned to develop driverless car technology”.
The DfT review, carried out over the past six months, considered the best and safest ways to trial automated vehicles where an individual is ready to take control of the car if necessary. It also looked further ahead to the implications of testing fully automated vehicles.
The review provides legal clarity to “encourage UK and international industry to invest in this technology”.
The next step is for the Government to introduce a code of practice which will provide industry with the framework they need to trial cars in real-life scenarios.
The code of practice is scheduled for publication in spring 2015, with the first driverless cars expected to be tested on roads by summer 2015.
To mark the launch of the review, Vince Cable, business secretary, and Claire Perry, transport secretary, are visiting Greenwich, home to one of the Government funded driverless cars trials.
The pair will witness the inaugural journey of a fully automated vehicle known as the ‘Meridian Shuttle’, which is being trialled as part of the GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project.
Claire Perry said: “Driverless cars are the future. 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 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.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The projects we are 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 £900bn industry by 2025.
“Today’s announcement shows the UK’s strong intent to take this technology to the next level and investigate how vehicles that can take greater control could improve our driving experience and increase safety further.”
Click here to see a short film showing how driverless cars work (BBC News website).
Could driverless cars own themselves? – read this feature on the BBC News website.