Until now, tests of driverless cars in Britain have not taken place on public roads but in 2019 that will change. A conglomerate of UK companies will test futuristic driverless vehicles on British roads and motorways within two years. The Driver consortium, led by driverless vehicle software company Oxbotica, will test autonomous cars between Oxford and London.
Previous autonomous car trials have taken place at slow speeds with the vehicles staying away from public roads. A recent test by Oxbotica in Milton Keynes involved journalists and a traffic warden trying their autonomous vehicles. This new batch of tests will see the cars communicating with each other during journeys on issues like hazard perception. The vehicles will have a human passenger travelling on board. However, the cars will operate with almost complete independence and no human input. An insurance company will work alongside Oxbotica to assess the dangers at each stage of the car’s journey.
Professor Paul Newman, of Oxford University who founded the project said, “We’re moving from the singleton autonomous vehicle to fleets of autonomous vehicles – and what’s interesting is what data the vehicles share with one another, when, and why.”
The UK government has promised to pledge £100m toward autonomous driving projects in the hope that Britain is at the forefront in developing and nurturing this technology. £8.6m is earmarked for the testing stage between Oxford and London.
Professor David Bailey from Aston Business School said, “Britain is trying to keep up, but the big development in the field is going on elsewhere. That includes Google in the US, Volvo in China and Daimler in Germany. And amounts being committed by the UK are relatively small beer. The Obama government, for example, proposed spending billions of dollars over 10 years.”