The British government has said that driverless cars, or autonomous cars, will be on UK roads by the year 2015, at the same time as announcing a £10m fund that up to three cities can claim to help introduce and implement the required infrastructure. Driverless cars have the potential to reduce fuel costs, reduce congestion, and make driving an easier experience. However, there are obvious concerns over safety and the practicality of autonomous vehicles sharing our roads. However, in just a few months, road users may have to become accustomed to seeing “drivers” reading a paper or texting while heading to work.
Autonomous cars are being touted as the next big thing to hit our roads. Sensors and automated systems will enable cars to drive in close proximity to one another at a predetermined speed, and testing on this type of system has taken place in different countries around the world. However, until every car on the road is autonomous, things would have to be different. Distances would have to be maintained so that drivers are not put off, and drivers need to be assured of the safety of having driverless cars on the highways around them. The UK government hopes that announcing itself as the ideal country to test the technology will help the UK become one of the leading countries in the development of this new technology.
An autonomous car from Google has covered over 300,000 miles on the roads in California, but no such testing has previously been allowed here in the UK. However, Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced that driverless cars will, in fact, be on roads in the UK by January 2015. Chancellor George Osborne has said that he intends for the UK to have the infrastructure and legislation in place to position the UK as a leading autonomous vehicle testing country.
Although the UK has some way to go to catch up with other countries, they have promised a fund of £10m to be shared by up to three cities, who can use the money to help test chip driven cars in the hope that this will improve our standing with the autonomous vehicle testing industry.